Leeward police patrols to expand
By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau
KAPOLEI Leeward police officers will soon be able to patrol some of the more remote areas in the district when four new all-terrain vehicles are put into the field.
Maeda Timson said ATVs are useful in medical emergencies.
Maj. Alan Fujimoto, district commander, said that once officers have completed training on the vehicles, residents will see them running in back roads and beach parks throughout the district.
Because the ATVs were obtained through a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, using them for crime-fighting in low-income areas will be a priority, Fujimoto said.
"Many of those areas are near beaches, and they will be run in Kalaeloa, Wai'anae and 'Ewa Beach," Fujimoto said. "They can go on the beach or down paths where other vehicles cannot go."
District 8 encompasses the Wai'anae Coast, Makakilo, the 'Ewa plain and Kapolei.
Fujimoto said the olive-green vehicles cost about $6,000 each and are equipped with lights and sirens.
Officers using the ATVs will be armed and will carry personal radios for communication. They also will travel in pairs for safety reasons.
Fujimoto said training has been slowed because the police department is in the middle of a recruit class and scheduling has been a problem. But the ATVs could be deployed by the end of the month.
"The training is going on right now, so we should be up and running pretty soon," he said.
Maeda Timson, a member of the Barbers Point Redevelopment Commission, said that with recent security cuts at the former naval air station now called Kalaeloa, the new vehicles will be very welcome.
"We no longer have any civilian security in Kalaeloa. Zero," Timson said. "That was terminated when the state funding expired. And military security is limited to military property."
Timson said the commission hears regular reports of late-night drinking parties and crime in Kalaeloa, but she is more concerned about medical emergencies.
"In the camping area it is all rough trails and many don't have street names," she said. "If you have an emergency while camping, you may not be able to identify exactly where you are, but with an ATV the police can find and reach you faster."
ATVs have been used successfully in Waikiki since 1988 to patrol Kapi'olani Park and the beachfront at night, according to Maj. Tom Nita.
"For us they are very useful, especially along the beaches and parks at night," Nita said. "If we were to drive the white patrol cars through the park at night, we would have problems with breaking the sprinkler systems. The Cushmans are all right with that, but the ATVs are better."
Nita said the ATVs are safer for off-road use because the weight is more equally distributed.
Fujimoto said that in Kapolei, the officers will not be assigned to use the ATVs full-time, but the ATVs will be used to supplement the officers' regular duties.
Until then, the shiny ATVs sit in the garage at the Kapolei police station, waiting like everyone else to hit the beach.