Halloween in Lahaina Among Topics Raised at MPD Town Hall Meeting
By Wendy Osher
Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta spoke with residents of Lahaina Wednesday night in latest of a series of Town Hall meetings, which has so far drawn the strongest showing with more than 30 people in attendance.
“I can show statistics that the crime is dropping; I can show them all the good things that the Police Department does, but the bottom line is people want to make sure that they’re safe in their homes…that’s what these people are here for.Â They want to have that feeling of safety, which they deserve,” said Chief Yabuta.
Chief Yabuta fielded questions about community watch programs, speed enforcement and the departments plans for the upcoming Halloween festivities in Lahaina-an event that has been staffed by up to 90 officers at its height of popularity.Â Â Last year the department supplied 38 officers and plans to diversify its staffing this year at other festivities across the county as well.
Yabuta said the he is not for or against the event, but noted that the department invests $40,000 each Halloween night to ensure the safety of those in attendance.
On the topic of speed, Chief Yabuta said the department will be “getting tough” with added enforcement.
“The community might not like that because it comes down to getting tickets,” said Yabuta. Â Â But it is enforcement that was named as a key factor in Maui’s impressive seatbelt compliance rate.Â Chief Yabuta credited enforcement in accomplishing Maui County’s 98.36 seatbelt compliance rate in the Summer of 2009, the highest in the state.
Among the list of goals and objectives outlined during the Lahaina meeting was an effort to foster outside agency and community partnerships.
Chief Yabuta defended the Department’s D.A.R.E. program saying, “There are some people who are critics to DARE that think it doesn’t work and that I should be investing my resources elsewhere.Â DARE is a terrific program.Â It’s more than just saying no to drugs, it’s about saying no to bullying, it’s saying no to acting out inappropriately, it’s saying no to violence.Â It’s saying yes, to taking responsibility, being role models for our children, and investing in our youth.”
The next MPD town hall meeting is in Wailuku on November 3rd at the Velma Santos Wailuku Community Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m.Â The final meeting will be held on Lanai at the Lanai Community Center on November 5 from 6-7:30 p.m.
The department plans to return to the community with another round of Town Hall meetings tentatively set for March of next year.Â Chief Yabuta said he hopes to have the community more involved at that time with plans to introduce them to their respective district commanders.