BY THELMA DREYER – Lawmakers and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) are offering an opportunity for Makiki residents to learn about community policing and organizing Neighborhood Security Watch programs to create connections between police officers and community members to prevent, deter and reduce crime in the community.

The meeting will be held on Monday, January 24, 2011 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Christ United Methodist Church Educational Chapel.  Community policing promotes partnerships to address the immediate public safety concerns of a community, such as crime, social disorder and fear.  It empowers residents and the Makiki community to become active in increasing the safety and security of their homes.

“Community policing provides residents with a greater sense of security,” said Representative Della Au Belatti, District 25 (Tantalus, Makiki, McCully). “Residents can aid police in combating crime in our community by acting as extra eyes and ears of HPD. It also increases community pride and unity.”

On Oahu, property crime rose 5 percent while violent crimes decreased 1 percent in 2009. The spike in property crimes ended a six-year trend of declining offenses.

According to an annual report released by HPD in June 2010, there were 33,375 property crimes on Oahu in 2009, compared with 31,781 in 2008. Violent crimes show a slight decrease with 2,537 reported in 2009, compared with 2,575 the year before. Police have said in the past that crime tends to go up during tough economic times. Despite the increase, the current crime rates follow years of declining crime numbers, police emphasize.

Residents of more and more neighborhoods, from the North Shore to Manoa, have been coming together in recent years to form community policing groups to watch out for one another. Lawmakers and police are hoping to kick start new groups in the Makiki area with this introductory meeting.

“Crime prevention is everybody’s responsibility,” said Sergeant Lawrence Santos. “Community policing reduces crime and improves the quality of life.  It also addresses community concerns and can assist in the development of a community warning system.”

“Security watch groups are residents taking their community back,” Santos added. “It’s a proactive approach against crime and other social problems within the community. In addition, it not only serves residents, but has huge benefits for local businesses in the area.”

This event is hosted by Makiki’s state and city legislative delegation, including Representative Della Au Belatti, Senator Carol Fukunaga, and Council Members Ann Kobayashi and Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo, and HPD District 1 Community Policing Team.

A local-style potluck will immediately follow the meeting.  Christ United Methodist Church is located at 1639 Keeaumoku Street (between Wilder and Heulu).  Please call Berna at 586-9425 or send email to b.fo@capitol.hawaii.gov for the meeting agenda or if you will attend as part of a group or organization.

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