Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, September 14, 2001

'Weed & Seed' anti-crime program may expand

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

Encouraged by the success of the federally supported "Weed & Seed" crime-fighting program in other areas on O'ahu, residents of 'Ewa Beach and the Wai'anae Coast hope to gather enough community support to start the program in their neighborhoods.

 •  Public meetings

Weed & Seed presentations will be held for:

• Wai'anae Coast residents: 6:30 p.m. today at the Wai'anae District Park multi-purpose room.

• 'Ewa Beach residents: 7 p.m. Tuesday in the James Campbell High School cafeteria.

For details, call Weed & Seed coordinator Maile Kanemaru at 543-2216.

Weed & Seed coordinator Maile Kanemaru is leading public meetings in both communities and said there is room for both groups in the program.

"There is no reason why both areas could not be designated Weed & Seed areas," Kanemaru said. "We tell them they need more grassroots people to come to these meetings if they really care about the community."

Kanemaru said residents first identify key crime concerns and then help develop solutions.

"If it doesn't come from them, it is not going to work," she said.

Sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department, Weed & Seed is a law enforcement effort among federal, state and city authorities to reclaim dangerous neighborhoods by working to prevent crime.

The program, which targets violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity, depends on community efforts and tough legal penalties to "weed out" crime. Crime prevention, intervention, treatment and neighborhood revitalization then "seed" a safer community.

Anyone convicted of crimes in the area goes to jail for a minimum of one year and is banned from the neighborhood for six years after release, under the federal Safe Streets Act.

Of violent crimes reported in O'ahu's eight police districts in 2000, District 8 — which includes the Wai'anae Coast and 'Ewa Beach — had the most murders (5), negligent homicides (10), rapes (39) and aggravated assaults (188).

Officer Marc Thom with the District 8 community policing team said the two primary areas of concern in 'Ewa Beach are the old section of town between the 'Ewa Beach Community Park and Hanakahi Street and the Fernandez Village area near Renton Road.

In Wai'anae, the high-crime areas are generally around public housing, he said.

"That's the lower-income areas with more drug dealers, and it reflects on the crime rate," Thom said. "Not all public housing has high crime rates. We have been working with the Waimaha/Sunflower residents and the citizens patrols have cut crime a lot. Citizens have taken back their territory.

"Any community can do this if they want to, but that is the key, they have to want to."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 988-1383.