ANAHOLA — Tuesday was the first in a series of County of Kaua‘i’s safety meetings, “Keeping Your Community Safe,” at the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands Anahola clubhouse.
Around 30 residents and a few county representatives attended.
The purpose of the meetings is to empower each community to work with the county and take action by reporting any illegal crimes in their homes or within their communities.
The three county agencies present were Kaua‘i Police Department, Office of Prosecuting Attorney and Life Choices Kaua‘i. The nonprofit Crime Stoppers Kaua‘i Inc. was also represented.
“All of our information presented tonight is for the community to take action,” said Theresa Koki, Life’s Choices Kaua‘i coordinator. “We letting them know what we doing, what kind of programs we have, but we need the community to take care of their community, to keep it safe,” she said.
KPD Sgt. Lance Okasaki Jr. started the meeting off by introducing his coworkers and discussing how to use the new Crime Stoppers’ app, “P3tips.”
He also helped the crowd download the app and encouraged them to use it instead of calling Crime Stoppers, as it is easier to use and keeps identities anonymous. He also mentioned how a resident could receive an award for a tip.
“How do you get paid? You take that number and take it into any First Hawaiian Bank. You give them that number, no ID is necessary, and you walk out with that award money,” Okasaki said. “You know Ron Wiley? He is a board member. They review who gets the reward. But the tip has to have led to an arrest before they can give an award.”
Each community is encouraged to create their own neighborhood safety group. Anahola’s neighborhood safety group was formed by Anahola resident Kula Thaxton.
“We started this last year because we were concerned with the homeless and drugs in our neighborhood. And us older people, we were getting a little scared. We thought we have to do something about it, so we called officer Lance. He came out and at our first meeting we had 65 people,” Thaxton said.
Mel Rapozo, an investigator in the county Prosecuting Attorney’s office, explained the purpose of creating neighborhood safety groups, and how they’re more effective than just having a neighborhood watch sign posted in the community.
“The techniques of Neighborhood Watch, it’s not just the sign,” Rapozo said. “Work with the willing. When others see the success and it’s working, then they will join up.”
Okasaki added: “Once we know each other, where we live, have each other’s numbers, we become invested. We can take care of each other a little better. That’s what we want to pursue with neighborhood watches.”
Anahola resident Thaxton agreed with Okasaki and Rapozo, and said she hopes to see the majority of Anahola residents join the group.
“It is inclusive. That is why its called ‘Anahola neighborhood watch,’” she said. “It means all of us. We need to be concerned and involved in doing that all together.”
One person in attendance wanted to know what to do if someone doing illegal activities in their community was a loved one or a family member.
KPD Detective Barry Deblake took that question.
“You need to put your foot down (and) you probably never did in the first place,” Deblake said. “We can only do so much, but we are willing to help those that help themselves first. Don’t enable them.”
Rapozo and Koki said after the meeting that they were pleased with the turnout. They encourge the community to come out to the next meeting in their community.
“The turnout was great. I am very pleased by how the community was informed with the right tools and how engaged they were,” Rapozo said.
“The Anahola community share deep, cultural values, and have a strong community bond that creates their sense of security,” said Koki. “They are always eager to learn what programs they can participate in to support their families,” she said.
The next meeting was at Kilauea Neighborhood Center on Wednesday night, and today it will be at Hanalei Neighborhood Center from 6 to 8 p.m.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.