Communities concerned over successful crime-fighting program losing funding

(Via KHON)

Local communities struggling to battle crime are in danger of losing the money they depend on to carry on the fight.

The Weed and Seed program — overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice — can be found in areas including Ewa and Ewa Beach, Waipahu and in an area that combines the communities of Kalihi, Palama and Chinatown.

It works to “weed” out crime and “seed” neighborhoods with social programs to keep out criminal activity.

The Honolulu City Council wants the program to continue at least until the end of June 2015, but it all depends if Mayor Kirk Caldwell can find the $105,000 necessary to keep it going. Weed and Seed grant money pays people to coordinate the fight against violent crime, drug abuse and gang activity in cities throughout the country.

“If they are to leave, and really not coordinate with our community, we’ll go back to the old days,” said Hercules Huihui, who oversees the program’s efforts in Waipahu. “Drug dealers will come back and take over the streets.”

Weed and Seed has been around in Waipahu for 14 years, and it has paid off for the community. In the period from 2010-12, there was an 83 percent decrease in violent crime and an 82 percent decrease in property crime. Gang activity has declined, and there has been a 50 percent drop in the number of arrests involving graffiti, along with a 22 percent decline in juvenile arrests.

Waipahu, Ewa and the Ewa Beach communities seed their neighborhoods with programs to try to keep crime out.

“Culinary arts programs, we have youth programs with sport activities where officers are actually mentors to these kids,” said Richard Quaimzon, a businessman who oversees the efforts in Ewa and Ewa Beach.

“Clean and sober living — we showcase no use in drugs where they work with the kids in the community,” said Huihui about Waipahu’s seed programs, “and all of these will be lost and that would be devastating.

“So please, if the Mayor is looking, we could use that little more than $100,000 to keep this thing going,” he said.

Huihui said if they do not hear from the mayor soon, his and Quaimzon’s communities will launch a sign-waving campaign, along with a petition drive.

City Councilmember Ron Menor, who represents all those communities, told KHON2 that he has been in discussion with the mayor and he believes the mayor will do what he can to find the money to keep the program going for the rest of the current fiscal year.

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