The Honolulu Police Chief is trying to gradually rebuild community trust

Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan on Thursday answered questions from members of the Hawaii Society of Business Professionals about homeless people living near their businesses, more cops patrolling Beats and what they can do to support the department.

Logan, who took office in June and is the third boss in five years, told the group of about 30 businesspeople that one of his priorities was restoring the community’s trust in the police department.

“My first 100 days were kind of an eye opener. It wasn’t always pretty, but it is what it is,” Logan said. “How do you get in touch 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 your business can prevent criminal activity and the current homelessness situation.”

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

Society President Warren Miyake said businesses are just beginning to recover from the pandemic and retail crime has hit small businesses hard, which in turn is hurting consumers and the broader economy.

Jianna Garino, vice president of the Bank of Hawaii, asked Logan if he’d seen a drop in crime in Waikiki since the Safe and Sound crime-fighting initiative began in September.

Logan said officers were focusing on habitual criminals in the area, and several recent arrests had led to a drop in crime.

“Several people have been arrested in the past week or two for dealing drugs near the pavilions in Waikiki. Things kind of calmed down,” Logan said. “We have taken more enforcement action against people who commit petty crimes – shoplifting or harassment of tourists or residents. Our officers arrest these people. What you may not see are our undercover officers in downtown and Waikiki.”

Dirk Koeppenkastrop, owner of Il Gelato Hawaii, inquired about police enforcement of the homeless population surrounding his Iwilei store.

“We want to make sure that all of our employees are safe,” said Koeppenkastrop. “If there’s no rule they’re breaking, there’s nothing the police can do. We’ve got haircuts, burglaries, trespassing. What can we do? It affects safety and our business.”

“Being homeless isn’t a crime, but we need to help them help themselves,” Logan said. “Contact the community policing team in your district. We enforce the law while being compassionate people. If we pick them up and ask them to go, where do they go? We need places for these people to go.”

Honblue CFO Harvey Rackmil asked specifically about police officers who deal 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 like the city’s Crisis, Outreach, Response and Engagement program.

“We work with CORE in those situations where a mental health crisis or drug and alcohol crisis is ongoing and they usually take the lead and we are there as a supportive support. We get to the crime scene first and calm things down until they surface,” Logan said. “We should be there to make sure everyone is protected and safe, but it’s really the psychiatrist who is dealing with that person.”

To further enhance police encounters with the mentally ill, recruits now receive crisis intervention training at the police academy, Logan says.

Management consultant Steve Novak asked where police resources were most needed and whether more officers could be deployed to patrol districts.

“The patrol is understaffed at the moment. But each district commander has a certain number of officers to command,” Logan said. “This commander has the full range to take these resources in his community and assign them to strike or undercover or administration or community police. I don’t want to define exactly how this commander views the district and how he intends to solve problems. Patrol is my priority to fill. At the same time, I cannot empty other parts of the department.”

The boss said attending speaking and listening events gives him a chance 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’s going on in the department going on.

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

“As we continue down this path of law enforcement engagement, our job is truly to help you help the community keep it safe and secure,” Logan said. “It works together. Look at the problems and find solutions.”