KAILUA-KONA — Seven people were arrested in the Kailua Village area following a sweep by police triggered by complaints from the public.
Reports of street-level crimes, such as alcohol consumption, drug possession and distribution, disorderly conduct, and trespassing, prompted the week-long operation, which took place June 10-14 targeting the stretch of Alii Drive from Kailua Pier to Kahakai Road, near Huggo’s. The effort follows the county and state cleaning up homeless encampments earlier this spring, as well as community meetings held on the topic.
“The complaints are definitely on the rise,” Hawaii Police Department Sgt. Edwin Buyten, who is part of a special enforcement unit assigned the project to cleanup the downtown area.
From the complaints, the unit identified parties in town who were soliciting and distributing street-level narcotics to community members and tourists.
“As a special enforcement unit, we have time to be able to do surveillance and to identify who really is creating the problems down there,” Buyten explained. “Once we identify them, then if they are breaking the law or in violation of some county ordinance, we will then enforce that and follow-through with the prosecutor’s office.”
And, they’re taking it farther, working with the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney for a longer-term solution.
“If they are repeat offenders, we will reasonably seek geographical bans,” he said.
Such bans, if imposed by the court, would essentially restrict these individuals from being on Alii Drive, according to police. Violation would be contempt of court.
The individuals arrested amid the five-day operation ranged in age from 16 to 62. Arrests were made for a variety of offenses, including: criminal contempt of court, criminal conspiracy, first- and second-degree promoting a detrimental drug, distribution of narcotics near a school, liquor prohibited, and possessing a deadly weapon when prohibited, police said.
A total of 13 charges were filed in connection with arrests and bail totaled $36,150. Officers also issued numerous citations to appear in court, police said.
Buyten said Friday that three have already had geographical bans imposed on them, restricting them from the village area.
The effort will continue.
“We’re all raised here, we raised our children here and we all want the best for the village as much as anyone else,” he said. “Sometimes it takes time, and all we ask is for their patience. We want to reassure them that every situation is important to us.”