State briefs for February 1

Undercover police explored for illegal fireworks

HONOLULU (AP) — An undercover police unit is among the ideas Hawaii lawmakers are considering to tackle illegal fireworks.


Various bills have been introduced as possible solutions, including one to establish a task force focused on catching illegally imported fireworks and another that would create random shipping container inspections with help from explosive-sniffing dogs.

“There are a number of issues that are causing the problem, but the primary one is that we have knuckleheads out in our community who know that they can get away with it,” said Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, who introduced a bill which would create a new undercover unit in the Honolulu Police Department.

On New Year’s Eve, Honolulu paramedics responded to 11 fireworks-related injuries, including dismembered fingers.

Some firecrackers are allowed with a permit, and can only be set off between 9 p.m. New Year’s Eve and 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. But all types of illegal fireworks, including aerials, are common at other times.

“I would say in the last five years or so, ever since the really loud aerials started, we get complaints all the time, year-round,” Keohokalole said.

Group aims to expand coqui eradication efforts on Maui

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — A group fighting invasive species on the Hawaiian island of Maui wants to expand efforts to eradicate coqui frogs near a popular surfing spot before the animals spread.

The Maui Invasive Species Committee is considering either enlisting community volunteers to take on the coqui near Peahi on Maui’s north shore or hire a nonprofit company to do the job.

Peahi is a potential hotspot for “hitchhiking coqui” to jump on cars and other materials, like plants, and be transported to other parts of Maui, said Susan Frett, the committee’s community coqui control coordinator, at a Haiku Community Association town hall meeting.

The committee has eliminated nearly two dozen coqui frog populations on Maui but nine active sites remain.

The volunteer approach would need six to 12 community members to work once a week. The committee would supply them with supplies.

The other option would be to hire a temporary crew from nonprofit company American Conservation Experience, which would cost an estimated $125,000.

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