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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, January 28, 2005

Officers back on foot in Chinatown, Waikiki

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

After an absence of nearly a decade, police officers are walking regular foot patrols in Chinatown and Waikiki as a way to train new officers and increase police presence in those communities.

Officer Robert Fetter puts his hat back on after visiting shopkeepers during his foot patrol yesterday in Chinatown. It's been almost 10 years since there were regular foot patrols in Chinatown and Waikiki.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

"We will be right in the middle of everything and working with the community and merchants ... getting to know their problems," said officer Guy Folz, who worked one of the first downtown patrols yesterday.

Folz said he will be getting a new pair of shoes to replace the boots he usually wears. "Something athletic. A little bit more comfortable," he said.

Ten officers will walk the beat in the downtown/Chinatown area and 17 others have been placed in Waikiki. They will rotate between the areas every five weeks.

Police Chief Boisse Correa has said he decided to reactivate the Fourth Watch, or foot patrols, because of improved staffing levels.

"I can't imagine anything better that the HPD could do for us to enhance the security of this mall," said Caroline Kim, director of operations for the Fort Street Mall Business Improvement District.

After training at the police academy, recruits are placed in the field for about 14 weeks of street training. The recruits are assigned training officers who try to expose the recruit to all types of cases. They evaluate all aspects of the recruit's police work, from public interaction to safety on the job.

The recruits are then assigned to the Fourth Watch for four to six months, until a new group of recruits comes in to replace them, said police Maj. Kevin Lima.

"In the past, Fourth Watch was actually the training," Lima said. "We didn't have a field training program. But these officers, they have already proven themselves to have the skills under direct supervision to be able to work in a solo capacity."

"I expect them to come across everything," said Sgt. Gary Lum Lee, who will be supervising the Chinatown foot patrol officers. "The small traffic violations to drug arrests and everything in between."

Lima said that in Chinatown, officers will cover the area from Bishop to River streets and from Nimitz Highway to Beretania Street and all over Waikiki.

"They are not going to be told to patrol in any particular area other than where they believe illegal activities are being conducted," he said. "If that means Maunakea Street, than so be it."

Officers Robert Fetter and Robert Campbell started their first patrol by walking into shops along Fort Street Mall, introducing themselves and telling the shopkeepers they were there to help.

"If they have any problems they should let us know," Fetter said. "Parking, disturbances, anything that might be going on as far as problems running their business. They seem very pleased."

Pake Tubal, owner of the Flower Fair shop on the mall, said the foot patrols give him peace of mind.

"It's kind of nice they will be here," Tubal said. "It will be a positive thing. The druggies won't come around so much."

Reach James Gonser at jgonser@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2431.