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For safety - Be proactive

Security increased after Fort Street attacks

Students reminded of safety precautions

by Nathalie Parkvall, Science & Environment editor

HPU security enlarged its patrolling area after two students fell victim to two unrelated crimes on Fort Street Mall in May. Since one of the incidents took place between campus buildings and Hotel Street, the patrol has been extended to include the Hotel Street bus stop area, according to Chief Security Officer Luaselau Fesili.

“The First Hawaiian building security officer walks down to the bus stop every 10-15 minutes after the sun goes down,” Fesili said, and added that after 6 p.m., the guard stationed at the Library building patrols the bus stop regularly as well.

“A lot more students are confident walking to the bus stop now,” he said.

Chief Security Officer Luaselau Fesili

The lower Fort Street Mall incident occurred near the Subway sandwich shop where two local males robbed and assaulted a male student who was on his way home from the library around 8:30 p.m. The student was injured and reported the incident to police. The second incident took place near Beretania Street, where a homeless person, unprovoked, assaulted a female student in broad daylight. The female attacker, sitting by a tree, suddenly “got up, looked at the student, hit her, and then left,” said HPU security guard Doug Maiava, who witnessed the attack. Maiava immediately called Fesili, who followed the attacker until police arrived and arrested her. The victim’s back was bruised by the blow, but she suffered no other injury.

These two incidents are reminders that everyone in the downtown area – students, faculty, staff, and others – should be careful and safety conscious, especially at night. Honolulu is said to be one of the safest cities in the United States. However, one shouldn’t forget that it is a metropolitan area, and that crime still occur.

“It is important to understand that Fort Street Mall is public property, and not a campus,” said Vice President Rick Stepien. “When walking on Fort Street Mall, one should be as safety conscious as if walking on Kalakaua,” he added. Since Fort Street Mall is public property, HPU security doesn’t have the same authority over the area as the police. They have no right to put their hands on anybody or tell someone to leave the area. However, they do have the right to protect students from harm just as any other citizen could if witnessing someone being attacked.

“Our job is basically to protect, defer, and report,” Fesili explained. “If anybody brings physical harm on students or staff, we will intervene. We can use force, but basically, we’re trying to deter that.” Fesili recently attended a neighborhood board meeting where he made a request for better lighting on Fort Street Mall, he said.

Fesili also said that the Police Department is aware of the Fort Street Mall situation, and suggested the following simple safety-conscious precautions one should take to avoid becoming a victim when moving in the downtown area, or anywhere else.

· If you walk in the downtown and Fort Street Mall area at night, walk in lighted areas wherever possible, and walk briskly.
· Walk in the middle of Fort Street Mall and avoid the building and shop entrances where criminals are likely to lurk.
· Keep your eyes and ears open and stay alert to your surroundings.
· Avoid suspicious people and don’t show fear.
· Don’t wear a lot of jewelry or display valuables.
· Politely deny strangers’ requests for money, food, etc.
· If possible, at night, walk with classmates or other people you know.

Remember that you can ask an HPU security guard to escort you to the downtown bus stop or to your car, even during the day. “A lot of students don’t know about this,” Fesili said, “but as long as they ask for it, we’ll do it.” “When we do an escort, we ask for [the students’] names and social security numbers, so that we can make a report,” he added.

According to Stepien, any assault or robbery involving HPU students downtown is reported to the Downtown Neighborhood Board, and, sometimes, the Mayor’s office. The University has been informed that more HPD foot patrols of the Fort Street Mall area will be routinely conducted. “This will be a welcomed addition to the overall security of the area,” Stepien said.

If you see any suspicious persons or activity, or observe a crime on Fort Street Mall, report it to university security or the police. You can reach security at 753-7304 or at voice pager 530-6812. You can reach the Police Department at 911.

 

 

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