Palace plans more security

State, county officials vow protection for ‘all persons and property’ By Gordon Y.K. Pang Advertiser Staff Writer Steps are being taken by state law enforcement and the staff at ‘Iolani Palace to beef up security at the historic site, even as state and city leaders assured the public yesterday that Honolulu police will respond to calls for help regardless of where they may be. Following a meeting that included Gov. Linda Lingle, Attorney General Mark Bennett and Police Chief Boisse Correa, state and county officials said they are all on the same page when it comes to security at the palace, or elsewhere. “The governor sought, and we received, an unconditional commitment from all law enforcement present … to fight illegality and to protect all persons and property regardless of whether or not the illegality and the threat to persons and property occurs on state property, private property or county property,” Bennett said. While arrests were made and no one was seriously injured during the four-hour takeover, law enforcement’s initial response to the takeover has come under fire. A Honolulu Police Department sergeant was accused of walking away from a palace employee after she was assaulted near the palace gates. The officer, in a recording of a conversation that took place after the incident, repeated several times that the grounds were under the jurisdiction of the state. HPD ‘will respond’ There were also complaints about the handling of a 911 call placed from within the palace on Friday after members of a group calling itself the Kingdom of Hawai’i took over the grounds. Bennett said when “someone calls 911, there is going to be a response … the response will never be ‘that’s not our jurisdiction.’  Bennett was apparently referring to a 911 call placed by palace security to police dispatch during which a dispatcher told the palace employee to look for sheriffs or other officers already on the scene. “If a citizen, indeed, is in trouble, in harm’s way, and calls 911, the Honolulu Police Department will respond,” echoed Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was originally expected to attend the meeting but did not. “It doesn’t matter what property it occurs on. It is important the people know that.” The attorney general’s office is investigating the response of the HPD sergeant, as is HPD itself. Said Hannemann: “Obviously, we want to make sure that if there were some shortcomings there, if there were some errors on our part, we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Bennett applauded the police for assisting when state law enforcement officers tried to stop the trespassers from breaking into the palace. “When the cooperation of HPD was needed during the attempt by law enforcement to counter that illegal activity, we worked together,” Bennett said. “We arrested more than 20 people who are going to be prosecuted. We had the cooperation at that time of HPD.” Both Bennett and Correa indicated authorities may have gone onto the property sooner than 8 p.m., when the group was attempting to break into the palace, had more law enforcement officers assembled more quickly. “We had staged a significant number of state law enforcement people there and we were ready to proceed to remove the chains and make whatever trespassing arrests were appropriate, but we wanted to make sure we had enough people there so it could be done safely,” Bennett said. “What usually happens is you want to go in with a force big enough to counteract the force that’s there so no one gets injured,” Correa said. “You want to overpower the opposition. You want to go in there with the resources, a plan and a strategy so you minimize injuries and you maximize what you’re trying to accomplish. In this situation, it was no different. We were trying to get those numbers up to bring enough officers and state people together to set up that strategy.” Bennett said state enforcement agencies are intending to beef up their patrols of palace grounds, although he declined to give specifics, citing security considerations. Previously, no one had ever threatened either the palace or people on the grounds. “Sadly, that paradigm has now changed,” he said.  Plans for more guards Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, said yesterday that his organization is also looking at a “bunch of new security measures,” including the hiring of additional security personnel. Chu said he was expecting to start interviewing prospective new security officers today. Hannemann and Correa said they were pleased to hear the state is looking at committing more officers to patrol the palace grounds since the 50th anniversary of statehood commemoration next year may prove sensitive. Lingle told The Advertiser yesterday that she and the chief discussed the need to plan for security tied to statehood commemoration events. In all, more than 50 state law enforcement officers and about 47 HPD officers were on the scene when the 25 members of the group were arrested. Of those, 23 have been charged — one with second-degree assault, six with second-degree burglary and 16 with criminal trespassing. D. Alfred Love-Boltz, who was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly assaulting Friends of ‘Iolani Palace facilities manager Betty Jean Noelani Ah Yuen, is scheduled to appear in court this afternoon. The others are scheduled to appear Sept. 20. At a news conference last night, Love-Boltz, 73, denied the charge. He also accused authorities of drugging him while he was in custody at the main police station cellblock. “No, I didn’t assault that lady,” Love-Boltz said. “She was at the gate, she was kicking one of the (other group members). I didn’t want her to get hurt … all I did was pull her away from the gate.” Love-Boltz said Ah Yuen’s hand was in danger of being slammed by the frame of the gate, which was being pushed by three others. He claims Ah Yuen, in fact, assaulted him, “hitting me in the face.” Love-Boltz said he was taken to The Queen’s Medical Center Sunday.   “My head about exploded and my tongue was dry,” Love-Boltz said, claiming he had been heavily drugged by authorities at the cellblock. “It was in the first cup of water and bowl of soup they gave me.” Love-Boltz, of Lansing, Iowa, is free on $5,000 bail. Bennett stressed that other charges could be made for any of the 25, including Akahi Nui, the man identified as the “king” of the group. A separate group, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, which is not affiliated with Akahi Nui’s Kingdom of Hawai’i, has been conducting business on the mauka lawn of the palace since April 30. Leader Mahealani Kahau yesterday said the Hawaiian Kingdom Government was not on the grounds on Friday because her son was having his graduation party the next day and she told the others in the group to take the day off. Kahau said she was disappointed with Akahi Nui and his group, calling their actions “disrespectful.” Correction: A Honolulu Police Department sergeant was accused of walking away from an ‘Iolani Palace employee after she was assaulted near the palace gates. The officer, in a recording of a conversation that took place after the incident, repeated several times that the grounds are under the jurisdiction of the state. A previous version of this story inaccurately said he is accused of leaving during the alleged assault. Staff writer Derrick DePledge contributed to this report. Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com]]>

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