Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan took questions from members of the Hawaii Society of Business Professionals Thursday about homeless people living near their businesses, getting more police officers patrolling beats and what they can do to support the department.

Logan, who took office in June and is the third chief in five years, told the group of about 30 business people that one of his priorities is to rebuild the community’s trust in the police department.

“My first 100 days was kind of an eye opener. It wasn’t always pretty, but it is what it is,” said Logan. “How do you connect with the Honolulu Police Department? Through our community policing teams. They will come down and talk to you about crime in the area. About ways for your business to help prevent criminal activity and about the homeless situations that are going on.”

Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan took questions from business professionals during a luncheon. James Gonser/Civil Beat/2022

Society president Warren Miyake said businesses are just starting to recover from the pandemic and retail crime has hit small businesses hard, which in turn hurts consumers and the overall economy.

Jianna Garino, a vice president with the Bank of Hawaii, asked Logan if he has seen any crime reduction in Waikiki since the “Safe and Sound” crime fighting initiative began in September.

Logan said officers are focused on habitual criminals in the area and several recent arrests have resulted in a reduction in crime.

“Multiple individuals were arrested in the last week or two for dealing drugs around the pavilions in Waikiki. Things have kind of settled down,” Logan said. “We have conducted more enforcement on individuals committing petty crimes – shoplifting or harassing tourists or residents. Our officers are arresting those individuals. What you may not see is our undercover officers in downtown and Waikiki.”

Dirk Koeppenkastrop, owner of Il Gelato Hawaii, asked about police enforcement with the homeless population that surrounds his business in Iwilei.

“We want to make sure all our employees are safe,” Koeppenkastrop said. “If there is not a rule they break there is nothing police can do. We have haarrassment, break-ins, trespassing. What can we do? It impacts safety and our businesses.”

“Being homeless is not a crime but we need to help them help themselves,” Logan said. “Contact the community policing team in your district. We enforce the laws at the same time as being compassionate people. If we pick them up and ask them to leave, where do they go? We need places for these individual to go to.”

Harvey Rackmil, CFO of Honblue, asked specifically about police officers dealing with people suffering from mental illness or addictions.

Logan said in situations where people are not committing crimes but have mental health issues, police work with providers such as the city’s Crisis, Outreach, Response and Engagement program.

“We are working with CORE in those kinds of situations where a mental crisis or drug and alcohol crisis is going on and they usually take the lead and we are there as support backup. We get to the scene first and calm things down until they show up,” Logan said. “We should be there to make sure everyone is protected and secure, but it’s really the mental health professional dealing with that person.”

To continue to improve police encounters with mentally ill individuals, Logan said recruits are now given crisis intervention training in the police academy.

Business consultant Steve Novak asked where police resources are most needed and if more officers can be used to patrol districts.

“Patrol is understaffed right now. But each district commander has a certain number of officers given to the command,” Logan said. “That commander has a full range of using those resources in their community and how to allocate them to the beat or undercover or administration or community policing. I don’t want to micromanage how that commander looks at the district and how they want to solve problems. Patrol is my priority to fill. At the same token I cannot empty out other portions of the department.”

The chief said attending speaking and listening events gives him opportunities to hear firsthand from the public what their concerns and thoughts are and it gives residents a chance to get to know him and learn what is going on in the department.

In October, he gave talks to or met with the Waikiki Improvement Association, Retail Merchants of Hawaii, Sunset Rotary Club, Japan Consul General and the Chinatown Business and Community Association.

“As we continue down this road of law enforcement engagement our job is really to help you help the community to make it safe and secure,” Logan said. “It is working together. Looking at the issues and coming up with solutions.”

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