Wai'anae should be model on ice fight
By Mike Gabbard
Mike Gabbard represents District 1 ('Ewa, Kapolei, Wai'anae Coast) on the City Council.
Over the last several months, the community has come together to do something about the crystal-meth problem in Hawai'i. But we'll lose our focus and little will be accomplished unless the current momentum continues against this scourge.
Already, there are signs that the public's interest in ice is melting. A recent House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement forum at the Capitol Auditorium drew fewer than a dozen members of the public. But the citizens of the Wai'anae Coast offer a model that shows how to keep the community involved and motivated.
On July 24, over 1,000 residents of the Wai'anae Coast joined together for sign-waving and an "Ice Breaker" town hall meeting to address the devastating effects of drug abuse with a particular focus on ice. For six weeks, my office partnered with Ho'omau Ke Ola, the Wai'anae Weed and Seed program, Ark of Safety Christian Church, Hina Mauka and many others to coordinate and plan this event, which brought together law enforcement, elected officials, kupuna, social service pro-viders, churches, unions, schools and area residents to come up with an action plan to tackle this scourge.
As we planned for this event, it was our top priority to make sure that people who attended the meeting didn't just leave feeling good that they had "done their part." We wanted them to get involved and stay involved in this ongoing fight. And they did.
Shortly after the forum, a community organization was formed in Wai'anae called PA'I (People Against Ice). Pa'i means "to slap," and this grass-roots organization is taking a stand against the drug problem through community partnerships.
On Sept. 25, PA'I held a second community meeting, with over 200 people in attendance. At this meeting, the group focused on signing up people for Neighborhood Security Watches that patrol their neighborhoods looking for suspicious activity to be reported to the HPD. Service providers passed out informational materials on how citizens can get involved. Once again, the strong voices of Wai'anae came together united in their commitment to take their community back.