Police Chief Darryl Perry says it's time to get alcohol out of the public parks, following two harassment incidents at Hanalei pier that involved intoxicated young adults.
“Nothing good has ever come about by having intoxicated adults and juveniles who are unable to control themselves,” Perry wrote me in an email. “I’m not talking about the fishermen who peacefully do their own business fishing and enjoying a beer or two, but those individuals who go down to the parks and beaches blast their radios, get stupid drunk, instigate fights, assault innocent people, then drive off blitz out of their minds. The police can’t be everywhere at once, and usually by the time we get there because of limited staffing, the damage is done."
Perry wrote that he knows his proposal is controversial, but “it’s time we seriously start thinking community safety over tradition; this is not the same Kauai of the 60s and 70s when I grew up. My personal thoughts.”
Though the two incidents are unrelated, in terms of perpetrators, Perry identified several common themes: the approximate age of the suspects (young adults), intoxication, unprovoked taunting of the victims, disorderly conduct by the suspects and location.
“Let me state unequivocally that the actions of the suspects are an embarrassment to our community because that is not reflective of who we are as a community and culture,” Perry wrote. “With that said, we are doing all that we can to identify and prosecute these individuals. And moving forward, KPD is stepping up our patrol efforts in Hanalei and other park areas where our families gather.”
The Garden Island reported an unidentified Hanalei businessman plans to seek merchant support to hire guards to patrol the pier area, promoting me to ask Perry if KPD has any sort of policy regarding private security guards patrolling public beaches. His response:
No we don’t. But the State (RICO) regulates Security Guards setting training and certified criteria. If private security were hired by a gated community for example, the guards would have no law enforcement powers. Generally they would report suspicious activities and/or crimes in progress to KPD and we would respond. Their role is more on the prevention side.
If there was a confrontation with someone who was disorderly, security guards are not authorized to engage the individual unless they or someone else was physically assaulted. Then, they would have the right, as any citizen would to defend themselves or others, but they can only use enough/reasonable force to stop the threat; once the threat has been eliminated no further force may be used. At that point, KPD must be contacted so that we can record the incident and take appropriate action.
In response to claims that the harassment was racially motivated, Perry went on to write:
In light of the recent murders that occurred in a Charleston, South Carolina church, and our concerns involving the Hanalei incidents, I conducted research on “Hate Crimes” under HRS 846-51 to determine whether or not the Hanalei events would qualify based on our definition. However, my understanding is that the classification of a hate crime is determined by the OPA based on the investigation provided by KPD. It’s a procedural matter so that there is consistency throughout the State regarding proper classification. Therefore, I cannot answer that question.
But, even if the Hanalei events were to be classified as hate crimes, “Hawaii law does not provide for enhanced sanctions against perpetrators of misdemeanor-level hate crimes, [but] these offenses must still be reported for statistical purposes” according to the Office of the Attorney General. In other words, if convicted, say for Harassment, the punishment would be the same regardless of its Hate Crime status; according to HRS, no enhanced sentencing can be attached.
The police still have released no details on what allegedly went down in either incident. We've had only a report from a California teacher to The Garden Island regarding the May 30 incident, and another from an unidentified witness to the June 16 incident. I've made a public records request for police reports in both cases, so we can learn what was actually reported to the police, as opposed to the rumor and hearsay published in TGI.
While it's fine to use unnamed sources, the problem is that TGI reporter Brittany Lyte hasn't been around long enough to judge the credibility of her sources, or determine whether they have a particular ax to grind. In her most recent story, she allowed an unnamed person who allegedly was a witness to the June 16 incident make a number of sweeping pronouncements, proclaiming the situation was “out of control,” a group of young local males on the beach “were making it miserable for everybody” and “we need to have a cop cruise up and down that parking lot.”
That may be the case, but I'd feel a lot better if I knew the wahine making those claims is a credible person, and doesn't work for one of the real estate companies or other entities that is slathering after the profits to be reaped by turning Hanalei into an exclusive community.