UPDATED 10/13 11:15 a.m.

A $75,000 gift from Waikiki businesses to the Honolulu Police Department to purchase extra foot patrols has come under fire before.

Last week the Honolulu City Council approved the money from the Waikiki Business Improvement District (BID) Association, but not before some council members raised questions about whether its appropriate to accept money from a specific constituency that wants extra police protection in return.

Council member Stanley Chang, who sits on the BID board, defended the “public-private partnership” as nothing new. But that doesn’t mean questions haven’t been raised about the program in the five years the city has been accepting the cash.

A Civil Beat review of Council resolutions and meeting minutes dating back to 2006 reveals that the late Barbara Marshall once urged her colleagues to reject the gift — which was then $150,000 — because “there is going to be a bidding war where whoever has the most money gets the police services.”1

At that 2006 meeting, then-Council member Charles Djou said Marshall’s criticisms were misplaced because the BID is quasi-governmental. Enabled by both state and county legislation, special improvement districts are allowed to essentially levy property tax surcharges.

Djou said his Waikiki constituents were demanding services like sidewalk upgrades and maintenance, trash pickup and additional police protection — and agreed to pay extra money to make that happen. That’s the money that the BID is paying HPD for officer overtime.

Though Resolution 06-285 did pass that day, it wasn’t unanimous. Marshall and Todd Apo voted against it. Apo agreed with Marshall that the Police Department should have the discretion to determine how to best spend the extra money. They said they wanted some answers from the administration.

But the debate trailed off in subsequent years.

The BID’s $150,000 gift in 2007 was approved by a 9-0 vote with little debate, according to meeting minutes. The 2008 iteration, a $75,000 gift, was approved by an 8-0 vote with Marshall excused, minutes show.

In 2009, the $75,000 gift was again approved unanimously. The HPD explained that the gift would also assist in implementing the Multimedia-Technology Assisting Cops (M-TAC) project in Waikiki, according to meeting minutes. Then-Maj. Greg Lefcourt also told Council members Duke Bainum and Nestor Garcia that officers patrolling sidewalks could still answer calls in other locations.

There is no record of a resolution for a gift from the BID to the HPD in 2010.

But when it came back on the Council agenda last week, the old debate flared up again, if only briefly. After voting in favor of four previous versions of the gift, Garcia cast the lone vote in opposition. Romy Cachola, who’d also voted for the four previous gifts, said his “aye” vote came with reservations, as did Vice Chair Ikaika Anderson.

UPDATED Garcia explained Thursday that he’s become more sensitive to the intent of the gift over time. When it was in committee this year, he asked the Police Department to be more specific about the “various activities” it would be seeking to stop on Waikiki sidewalks, and then had concerns about street performers’ civil rights.

The annual gifts from the Waikiki Business Improvement District Association have consistently been the largest given to the HPD in recent years, according to a Civil Beat review of some 2,000 resolutions introduced since 2006.

Including the resolution approved by the Council last week, there have been 40 resolutions introduced since 2006 that use the phrase “gift to the Honolulu Police Department” in their title.

Here they are, ordered from most valuable to least valuable:

History of Gifts To The Police Department

Year Resolution Value Source Details
2006 06-285 $150,000 Waikiki Business Improvement District Association Enhanced police patrols of the public sidewalks in Waikiki
2007 07-261 $150,000 Waikiki Business Improvement District Association Enhanced police patrols of the public sidewalks in Waikiki
2011 11-247 $75,000 Waikiki Business Improvement District Association Address various illegal activities on the public sidewalks
2009 09-184 $75,000 Waikiki Business Improvement District Association Enhanced police patrols of the public sidewalks in Waikiki
2008 08-167 $75,000 Waikiki Business Improvement District Association Enhanced police patrols of the public sidewalks in Waikiki
2008 08-227 $28,000 Diebold ATM shell for scenario-based training exercises
2009 09-073 $22,740 Oasis at Waipahu Free rent and utilities in a Waipahu unit
2007 07-082 $21,305 The 200 Club Training, workshops, seminars and awards
2008 08-043 $20,425 The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2010 10-255 $20,000 Marc Greenwell Indian Scout Motorcycle for the Police Museum
2006 06-256 $15,000 Honolulu Police Community Foundation Automated External Defibrillators and equipment for the mounted unit
2011 11-131 $11,525 The 200 Club Training literature and software and to host The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2010 10-326 $9,600 Kukui Gardens Free rent of 408 square feet for the community policing team
2009 09-350 $9,600 Kukui Gardens Free rent of 408 square feet for the community policing team
2008 08-072 $9,600 Kukui Gardens Free rent of 408 square feet for the community policing team
2008 08-253 $9,600 Kukui Gardens Free rent of 408 square feet for the community policing team
2010 10-280 $8,495 Micro Systemation AB Cell phone forensics kit
2010 10-1 $8,000 The Deputies Awards, pins, travel and scholarship for the HPD’s Law Enforcement Explorers Program
2010 10-254 $8,000 The Deputies Awards, pins, travel and scholarship for the HPD’s Law Enforcement Explorers Program
2007 07-227 $8,000 The Deputies Law enforcement explorers program
2008 08-263 $8,000 The Deputies Law enforcement explorers program
2010 10-115 $7,205 The 200 Club Training literature and software and to host The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2009 09-103 $7,175 The 200 Club Training literature and software and to host The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2006 06-276 $5,000 Friends of Hawaii Charities Drug Abuse Resistance Education program
2007 07-257 $5,000 Friends of Hawaii Charities Drug Abuse Resistance Education program
2007 07-185 $4,500 Hawaii Medical Service Association Full-page advertisement in Island Scene
2008 08-226 $4,200 Central Pacific Bank Mock bank setup for scenario-based training exercises
2006 06-180 $4,140 The 200 Club The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2006 06-311 $3,068 USS Missouri Memorial Association USSMissouri overnight program for 47 students and 5 adults
2007 07-013 $2,500 Sam’s Club Equipment for in-depth investigations, surveillance video and photographs
2007 07-191 $1,909 Department of Justice Conference for investigators who deal with missing children
2007 07-156 $1,650 DARE America Regional meeting and conference in Nashville, TN
2006 06-370 $1,345 DARE America Officer to attend regional meeting in Nashville, TN
2007 07-117 $1,170 Friends of the Missing Child Center Hawaii Seminar for investigators who deal with parental kidnapping cases
2006 06-188 $1,145 Drug Abuse Resistance Education Sergeant to travel to DARE regional meeting and conference
2006 06-371 $1,000 Odyssey Automotive Specialty Visit New Jersey to inspect facility and two mini command vehicles
2007 07-198 $1,000 The 200 Club Breakfast Awards Ceremony
2007 07-053 $771 Department of Justice Conference for investigators who deal with missing children
2006 06-206 $750 Borthwick Mortuary Police Week Memorial Service
2008 08-096 $518 Borthwick Mortuary Police Week Memorial Service

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Honolulu City Council records

Civil Beat will continue to explore the complicated ethical issues stemming from the BID’s gift to the HPD. Repeated messages left for BID Executive Director Jan Yamane have not been returned, and the HPD has thus far declined to comment.

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