Hawaii Updates: Honolulu Police Suspend Use of Neck Restraints; More State Parks Reopen; 6 New Cases

Jun 9, 2020

The Honolulu Police Department is reviewing its policies in light of the nationwide call for police reforms.

Police Chief Susan Ballard said yesterday that an HPD committee began re-evaluating the department’s use of force policies in the last week. She says it has been five years since there was a complete review of that policy.

One aspect being changed is the use of what’s called a “vascular neck restraint,” which is a specialized martial art technique, according to Ballard. She says the vascular neck restraint was used in five separate instances last year.

Ballard says she decided to suspend its use because of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis after a police officer kneeled on his neck sparked protests across the country, including in Hawaii.

"But my question is, now as chief, how often are we training on it, this is a very precise act, how much are we doing training? So are the officers really proficient enough to be able to use it the way it should be used," she said.

"Or should it be, if we keep it, is it something that we raise up to deadly force – so it’s only used if an officer is about to lose their life. I don’t know. And that’s what our committee is about. It’s to take a look at all these different things."

Ballard says any use of excessive force is unacceptable and would not be tolerated at HPD.

--HPR's Casey Harlow

More state park restrictions being eased

All state beach parks are now open to passive beach use, with county rules in place, although some park gates may remain locked for resource management, safety or cost reasons, officials said yesterday.

Camping and lodging in state parks will be phased in, with overnight facilities expected to open by July 1, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources parks division. 

State Parks Administrator Curt Cottrell said restrictions on park hours, group size, and certain activities will remain in place. Park lodging and camping areas cannot be used for quarantine locations. 

Oahu:

• Most Oahu parks are open but lookouts that can get crowded remain closed. Wa'ahila Ridge Trail and the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail are accessible for hikers daily, with parking gates open on weekends only.

• Nu'uanu Pali State Wayside and Diamond Head State Monument interior crater and summit trail remain closed.

• Ka'ena Point State Park (Mokuleia Section) has reopened for vehicle access by permit.

• Most Oahu campsites will reopen June 12 with COVID-19 restrictions. Reservations are now open limited to a 30-day advance window. All groups must be members of the same household. Malaekahana State Recreation Area will not open until a paving project is finished.

Maui County:

• All Makena State Park beach areas are open for passive and active use. There are no lifeguard services or restroom facilities at Makena and the parking areas will remain closed.

• Wai'anapanapa State Park remains closed until the East Maui traffic management plan is completed. Pa'iloa beach is allowed for active and passive use.

• 'Iao Valley State Monument and Hana Highway State Waysides remain closed.

• Overnight lodging for Maui sites is expected to reopen on July 1.

• Molokai's Pala'au State Park has reopened for day use.

Hawaii Island:

• Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area and Kekaha Kai State Park are available for passive and active beach uses. The Hapuna Beach parking area is open daily and the Kua Bay section of Kekaha Kai is open to vehicles on weekends only.

• Most historic sites remain closed but are expected to open soon.

• The Wailoa Center is scheduled to reopen in early July. 'Akaka Falls State Park remains closed. 

• Overnight lodging for island sites is expected to reopen in mid to late June.

Kauai County:

• All Kauai parks have reopened, including lookouts in Koke'e/Waimea Canyon and Wailua River State Park.

• Koke'e State Park camping and lodging is now open, subject to COVID-19 restrictions. Reservations are open and limited to a 30-day advance window. All groups must be members of the same household.

• Polihale State Park and Napali Coast State Wilderness Park remain closed to camping for now but is expected to open on June 16.

• Commercial boat tours, including Wailua River State Park kayak tours and Zodiac tours to Napali Coast can resume operations, with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

A full status list of state parks and restrictions in effect are available on the DLNR state parks website.

15 cited at Kalalau in Na Pali state park

Law enforcement officers issued 15 citations Sunday in the Kalalau section of the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park on Kauai. The park remains closed because of the COVID-19 emergency.

Officers reported that as many as 30 people were seen in the area from the middle to the end of last week.

When Kauai police and state conservation and resources enforcement officers arrived, they saw people run, the state said in a news release. Prior to the officers' arrival, two commercial ocean vessels were spotted and had transported others out of the area. The commercial vessels are prohibited from operating in the wilderness park.

The Kalalau trail is open to Hanakapiai Stream, the first two miles of the trail and two miles to Hanakapiai Falls. When the Kalalau section the park reopens, an overnight permit will be required from the Department of Land and Natural Resources state parks division.

Where we stand

Six new cases of COVID-19 have been reported today by the state health department. All of the cases have been reported on Oahu. 

This brings the number of statewide cases to 682. The number of deaths has remained at 17. The case count for Oahu is now at 448, Maui County at 120, Hawaii County at 81 and Kauai County at 21. Some 618 people have been released from isolation.

The state is continuing to investigate and monitor three cases of COVID-19 at two senior facilities -- two involving workers at Kalakaua Gardens, a senior living facility in Waikiki, and one at Maunalani Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a longterm skilled nursing facility. 

As a precaution, additional testing of patients and staff is ongoing, the state health department said.

The health officials have warned that as the state reopens businesses and activities, there will be more new cases. Officials urged residents to continue taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including using face masks and practicing social distancing.

More visitors arriving in islands

Yesterday, 1,732 people arrived in Hawaii, including 529 visitors and 493 returning residents, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. The mandatory 14-day quarantine remains in effect.

Others arriving included 180 crew members, 119 transiting travelers, 192 military, 119 travelers state-exempted from quarantine, and 100 who say they are locating to the islands.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.