TMT traffic enforcement: 24 arrests, 2,237 tickets

  • JELSMA

The four-week-long campaign of enhanced traffic enforcement on Daniel K. Inouye Highway near the Thirty Meter Telescope protest and encampment site has netted 2,237 traffic citations and 24 arrests for 39 offenses, the Hawaii Police Department said Thursday.

According to police, the latest week, Sept. 5-12, resulted in 431 traffic citations issued and five individuals arrested for five offenses.

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Police categorized the latest citations as follows: speeding, 207; excessive speeding (30 mph or more over limit), seven; seat belt violations, 18; child restraint violations, four; using cellphone or electronic device while driving, three; excessive window or windshield tinting, 10; driving without a license, 14; driving without insurance, 18; unsafe vehicle, 20; other moving violations, nine; no license plate, 16; regulatory violations, 103; and parking violations, two.

The five individuals arrested were booked for the following offenses: DUI, one; contempt of court or failure to appear, three; and revocation of terms of release from custody, one.

The stepped-up enforcement by police assigned to the protest and encampment site at the base of the Maunakea Access Road began Aug. 15. The first week’s statistics, reported Aug. 22, were 610 citations written and seven people arrested for 13 offenses. In the second week, the numbers reported Aug. 29 increased slightly to 630 citations and nine individuals arrested for a total of 16 offenses.

However, the numbers of those arrested and cited have decreased in the past two weeks.

On Sept. 5, following the third week of the operation, police reported 566 citations and three arrests for five offenses.

The latest numbers represent a precipitous drop from the previous three weeks’ numbers, especially for citations.

“The Daniel K. Inouye Highway traffic citations numbers were noticeably lower than the weeks prior, which is to be expected with the constant enforcement effort and the publicity that surrounds it,” said Maj. Samuel Jelsma, commander of Area I Operations in Hilo. “However, factoring into last week’s reduced numbers was … security during the demolition of the unpermitted structure within the protest area of Pu‘u Huluhulu on Friday, Sept. 6, which took officers away from the traffic enforcement effort.”

Asked to estimate how many of those cited and arrested are protesters and how many are drivers engaged in commutes between East and West Hawaii, Jelsma said enforcement “continues to be conducted in an impartial manner” and police are not keeping track of whether individuals arrested or cited are “associated with the current TMT protests.”

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Protest leaders have said they think the stepped-up enforcement is aimed specifically at them. Police, however, say the increased enforcement, which is planned to continue for the duration of the protest, is to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians, including the protesters.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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