Hawaii proposes armed park rangers for homeless encampments

 | Allison Schaefers 07/10/2017 9:38 AM MDT
Diamond Head Hawaii
Diamond Head Hawaii
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Waikiki resident Jen Tema holds her breath as she jogs past the Diamond Head lookouts because most days the stench from the homeless encampments is overwhelming.

“We’re at the beginning of the toilet,” Tema said on a recent Friday as she passed by a garbage pile that spilled over the oceanside cliffs like a waterfall. “When it’s dead wind, you can barely walk by it. It’s a shame because this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.”

She quit jogging at night because she didn’t feel safe due to the security risks and health hazards that have surfaced since the neighborhood’s homeless residents began monopolizing public spaces. Her son doesn’t surf at the lookouts because homeless campers dump buckets of feces into the water there. Her kids wear shoes instead of slippers to the parks to avoid stepping on discarded drug needles and used condoms.

City Councilman Trevor Ozawa said he’s been getting similar complaints from constituents in Waikiki and other neighborhoods that he serves. Public safety is driving the need for the city to explore additional ways to keep public spaces safe, said Ozawa, who is working on legislation to crea