HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu has expanded the number of city parks that private security guards will lock up at night.
Employees with American Guard Services Inc. will lock bathrooms and parking lots at 59 parks in an effort to curtail vandalism and illegal homeless activity.
The city hired the security company in April to initially secure 25 urban Honolulu parks. This expansion is second since the city starting using the company.
The city began clamping down on illegal park activity last year after it recorded more than 600 acts of vandalism over the previous three years.
“Our parks are a tremendous public asset and they deserve our malama and respect,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement.
“By expanding the parks security initiative to our District IV parks, we are helping to ensure that our parks don’t fall victim to vandalism or other destructive acts.”
The city will be paying $200,000 to the security company to secure the parks through April, said Nathan Serota, a spokesman for the city Department of Parks and Recreation.
Among the additional parks to be locked at night, three are in the neighborhood where Wilson Kekoa Ho lives. Up to 100 homeless people sleep in the area overnight, said Ho, the chairman of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board.
Ho said he sympathizes with many people who are homeless, “but it’s the irresponsible ones that make it harder for the community. It’s a community park and not a personal park for the homeless.”
The parks should be closed at night because the acts of vandalism and other illegal activity are not fair to park workers who “try to do their best to keep it safe,” Ho said.
The city has also hired private security guards to patrol nine city parks around the clock, costing $44,000 per month.