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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 24, 2003

Big Island ice summit to draw battle plan

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau

WAIKOLOA, Hawai'i — Police, social workers, business people and members of Congress will gather tomorrow to assess the Big Island's crystal methamphetamine crisis and to plan the next moves.

The second annual Hawai'i Island Meth Summit will include remarks by U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo and U.S. Rep. Ed Case, and a discussion by Kona physician Dr. Kevin Kunz on treatment obstacles and options.

Crystal metham-phetamine, or ice, has become a particularly acute problem on the Big Island, where police and users alike report the drug is widely available and heavily used.

Following his election in 2000, Hawai'i County Mayor Harry Kim declared that fighting the ice problem would be a priority, saying rural residents reported that the drug was causing crime, destroying lives and shattering families.

Billy Kenoi, executive assistant to Kim, said there have been several important steps since the first meth conference a year ago. Among them is new money for drug lab equipment to allow police to quickly process drugs seized in raids, so that suspects can be brought to justice faster.

Millions of dollars in additional federal money has been pledged to pay for drug treatment and prevention programs, including money allocated for a Big Island juvenile drug treatment facility.

An ice task force within the Hawai'i County Police Department is now operating, Kenoi said, and four new drug counselors have been assigned to Big Island schools.

County officials established an ice hot line and a Web site dedicated to the war against the drug.

The hot line on O'ahu is 586-1328; for the Neighbor Islands, (800) 9NO-METH or (800) 966-6384. The fax line is 586-1371.

E-mails can be sent to: stopice@hawaii.gov.

Last year, conference planners hoped to mobilize the community and also draw the attention of fede-

ral authorities to the scope of the problem, Kenoi said. Participants at the first conference came up with more than 145 recommendations.

This year, Kenoi said, representatives of various groups — including churches, law enforcement and the business community — will be asked to outline specific steps each group can take in the coming year. Representatives will then be asked to sign a pledge to make those things happen over the next 12 months.

"We recognized, and we stated from the beginning, that there's no simple solutions to this problem," Kenoi said. "We're not going to find a magic answer at a conference or a summit.

"But by collectively working together, by getting people to commit to each other and to collaborate, we're creating a healthier community."

The conference at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott will include about 300 invited representatives, and is co-hosted by U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, Kim and Hawai'i County Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna.

Reach Kevin Dayton at kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 935-3916.