Traffic citations, criminal charges increase in second week of Maunakea enforcement

  • Maj. Samuel Jelsma

The second week of enhanced traffic enforcement on Daniel K. Inouye Highway near Maunakea Access Road has netted more citations, arrests and criminal charges than the first week, Hawaii Police Department said in a statement Thursday.

Police say 630 citations were issued in the weeklong period starting Aug, 22, compared to 610 the week starting Aug. 15. In addition, nine individuals were arrested with 16 charges filed among them. That compares to seven individuals arrested for a total of 13 charges the previous week.

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“It was a little surprising that our numbers actually went up, slightly, but up from the previous week — overall citations, overall arrests,” said Maj. Samuel Jelsma, the police commander in charge of enforcement efforts in the area near a blockade on the access road by demonstrators opposed to the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea.

“I realize there is a lot of attention focused on this, by not only mainstream media, but social media. And people are generally talking about it. So we actually expected the numbers to taper off,” Jelsma added.

The 630 citations were categorized as follows, police said: speeding, 289; excessive speeding (30 or more mph above the limit), five; seat belts, 51; child restraints, 10; use of cellular phone or electronic device, three; excessive window/windshield tint, 11; driving without a license, 17; driving without insurance, 25; unsafe vehicle, 13; other moving violations, 14; no license plate, 22; regulatory infractions, 169; parking violation, one.

Charges against those arrested include: DUI, two; theft, two; contempt of court, nine; driving without a license, two; and driving without insurance, one.

During the enforcement, a stolen vehicle was located and two suspects arrested for the offense.

Police have announced stepped-up DUI enforcement over the Labor Day holiday weekend that begins tonight, but Jelsma said with enhanced enforcement already in place on the Saddle area, “For us, it doesn’t really change anything.”

“We already have this project up there going 24/7 already,” he said.

The combined total of the two-week-long Daniel K. Inouye Highway enhanced traffic enforcement efforts stands at 1,240 citations issued and 16 persons arrested for 29 offenses.

The effort will continue for the duration of the ongoing protest situation to promote the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike, police said.

The state Department of Transportation is not allowing parking on DKI for 3,000 feet in either direction of Maunakea Access Road.

Jelsma said at least two of those signs, and possibly more, were dismantled and found lying on the ground nearby.

“Officers have been made aware and will monitor and respond accordingly,” Jelsma said.

Police say the enforcement efforts are aimed at the safety of the public and the protesters, as well.

Hundreds, and on some days, thousands of protesters — who call themselves kia‘i or protectors of Maunakea — have been at the site on Maunakea Access Road and across the highway at Puu Huluhulu.

Protest leaders have said the increased enforcement is targeted at them, specifically, with a goal of shutting down the demonstrations. One, Lakea Trask, said he’s “disappointed but really not surprised … that somebody took it upon themselves to kind of go beyond kapu aloha and uproot those signs.”

“There’s a feeling from a lot of us that, you know, they were trying to provoke a reaction from our community,” Trask said. “And some of us who have a harder time, I guess, staying in kapu aloha might have took matters into their own hands in the middle of the night … when no one else could really see or address the situation.”

He said the stepped-up police presence has been constant since mid-August.

“It’s kind of like that whole area is a bottleneck for them, so anyone passing through with anything will at least be on their radar,” Trask said.

“We’re not going to let it deter what we’re there to do. We knew these kind of things would come from the state, these little types of underhanded actions and microaggressions, because … all over the world, that’s how the state works. They can afford to take little cheap shots and chip away and try to bleed us out, in a sense.”

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“But when we’re right there, right here next to the source, next to our mountain, we’re fed spiritually every day. And there’s really no deterrent for what we’re willing to do to protect that.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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