LIHU‘E — The proposed Kapa‘a police substation should include Hawaiian heritage in its design, an island resident told the Kaua‘i Police Commission on Friday.
The building slated for the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital campus, east of the Kawaihau and Iwaena roads juncture, has drawn a mixed response from community members. Opponents fear it will generate noise, traffic and crime in a residential neighborhood, while the Kaua‘i Police Department maintains it is the only feasible site for a much-needed base in the Kawaihau district.
Kamealoha Smith, an educator from an Anahola family, has no issue with the proposed substation location, but believes honoring the site’s past can improve the plan.
“As a part of the discussion, we could figure out how to incorporate some na me‘a Hawai‘i, some of that traditional knowledge, into the building,” Smith explained during public testimony.
“But it’s not just about recognizing history. It’s not just about acknowledging that there were people, taro patches and villages there, and sacred sites. It’s also, I think, a way to deter negative interactions between law enforcement and Hawaiian people and others.”
Smith claimed police frequently visited his childhood home because his father was a Hawaiian political activist.
Now Smith is offering to construct an ahu, or Hawaiian altar, at the substation.
“Something like that would start things off in a real-positive manner,” he said. “I think that would be really, really wonderful in terms of forging new and better relationships.”
Police commissioners and Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck expressed enthusiasm for Smith’s proposal.
Raybuck also thanked residents who participated in the extended public-comment period for the substation’s draft environmental assessment, which closed Sept. 23.
“I think it’s important for us to hear from everyone that lives in that area, and then find ways that we can mitigate the concerns that are brought forward by the community and yet provide an increase of availability and presence for our officers to serve that community,” Raybuck said.
Traffic citations, activity along the Kapa‘a portion of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae multi-use path, and the highs and lows of police recruitment, were discussed Friday as well.
Officers wrote nearly 300 tickets in August, according to Raybuck, who attributed the high number of citations to vigorous traffic-enforcement operations.
Meanwhile, KPD personnel met with Coconut Coast property owners and patrolled the nearby bike path, which Raybuck described as a longstanding problem area.
“It’s an area removed from daily patrol activities and allows people to, unfortunately, engage in some activities that we would like to see addressed,” he said.
KPD has also lost four prospective officers. Two members of an upcoming recruit class withdrew due to a change in conditions of employment, while another two left recruit school due to family emergencies, according to Raybuck.
However, 17 recruit-school graduates took written exams on Saturday.
“Hopefully, that will help us with some of the tragic losses in staffing that we’ve just recently gotten,” the chief said.
Scott Yunker, general assignment reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.