(BIVN) – On Tuesday, as the Hawaiʻi County Council Finance Committee questioned the administration on costs incurred to assist the state in support of the Thirty Meter Telescope project, councilmembers had a chance to ask the Big Island police chief about increased enforcement along the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
Chief Paul Ferreira, speaking via teleconference from Hilo, told the councilmembers sitting in Kona that there is about 20 or 25 officers on the Saddle Road per day. “We’ve actually tasked those officers with doing traffic enforcement from the entire route of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, from the 190 boundary on the South Kohala side to the Kaumana City boundary on the Hilo side,” Ferreira said.
Hāmākua councilwoman Valerie Poindexter wanted to talk about the new signs installed on either side of the highway near Puʻuhuluhulu and the Mauna Kea Access Road. “We look at the the signs it says no standing, no stopping… I mean, it has a whole list of things on there,” she said, adding that its like “we’re creating these things to cause more work for the officers up there to create enforcement of some kind.”
But the chief said the enforcement he spoke of had “nothing to do with the signs they were posted” along the highway. He said the signs were installed by the Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation.
“The enforcement that we’ve been we’ve been doing is what we normally enforce on any given street,” Chief Ferreira said. “Speeding, reckless driving, and the whole reason for it is an increased police presence in that area because of the people that are there.” He added there were two very bad accidents on the Saddle Road in recent weeks.
“I know there’s social media that’s out there that’s portraying officers saying they’re targeting people [with] Hawaiian flags,” Chief Ferreira said. “That is totally not true,” he said, adding that if they were, they would be targeting one of his own daughters, who is travelling around with one flag.
“It just bothered me that we we’re, like, creating this abuse of power or something by those signs,” said Poindexter. “I’m glad to hear that you’re not sending your officers up there to enforce those signs, because I think those signs are ridiculous.”
But Councilmember Matt Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder said that without state entity to enforce the parking signs, “is that gonna fall on our police department to enforce people stopping, standing, parking, loading or unloading on the side of a state highway?”
“The straight answer would be yes, it would fall upon us,” said Chief Ferreira. The police chief said there would be an educational period for the parking signs.
“If they go past the signs – what is his shoulder about 10 foot off the the white line?” asked Kanealiʻi-Kleinfelder. “So if they can get their car off of that ten foot shoulder, they would no longer be in a finable area?”
“Thats my understanding,” Chief Ferreira answered.
The parking signs could already be facing a legal challenge. The Kona-based Foster Law Offices is asking “if you have been issued a parking citation and/or your vehicle wae towed while at Maunakea since the new signs prohibiting “parking”, “stopping”, “standing”, “unloading” or “loading” were installed, please message me,” the law firm posted on Facebook.