At its June 13, 2007 hearing, the Maui County Liquor decided the question of what to do with increased reports of violence and troubles at Kihei Kalama Villages by doing what all great commissions do when confronted with matters of such weight and importance:they tabled the matter for a month.
The “talk story” session involving the commission, two members of the Maui Police Department and all the owners and liquor licensees from the Kihei Triangle took a little over an hour. It began with Sergeant Mervin Ching of the Maui PD’s Kihei District painting a dark picture of rapidly surging crime in the area that includes Life’s a Beach, Kahale’s, Bada Bing, SouthShore Tiki Lounge, Pupu Lounge, LuLu’s, Dog &Duck and, eventually, Ambrosia.
“We are responding to too many calls for service in this one area,”Ching said. “We are over-burdened by the amount of calls. It’s too much.It’s draining our resources.”
LCDirector Franklyn Silva agreed. “That’s a bad area,”he said. “That’s Indian Country.”
According to statistics Ching provided the commission, Kihei officers responded to just 19 violent cases in the April-May 2006 time period, but 123 cases in the same period this year. When asked why the sudden increase in troubles, Assistant Chief Wayne Ribao, Ching’s supervisor, told the panel, “There are too many bars in a small area.”
Ching and Ribao asked the commission to limit the hours of operation for all licensees in Kihei Kalama Villages to just 12:30 in the morning. But the commissioners rejected the idea, saying the real problem was that there simply wasn’t enough of a police presence.
According to Ching, the Kihei District typically has just one supervisor and four officers. Since it takes about three officers to handle a single arrest, police have been reluctant to slap the cuffs on anyone found making trouble in the Triangle.
“Three quarters of your problem is that you don’t have enough staff,”Commissioner Ron McOmber told Ching and Ribao. “Maybe we all need to go lobby the mayor.”
In any case, all parties will meet again at next month’s hearing to see how increased security at the Triangle–which Ribao admitted has “improved”the area–is progressing.