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Big Island

Hawaii Police Have No Emergency Access to Gated Communities

Big Island police must be met at the gate in an emergency.

The headline on 12-29-2010’s West Hawaii Today was, ‘Residents feel ‘abandoned‘ with a subheading, ‘Exclusive communities’ gates keep out the public—and the police.’ The article centers around the police department’s policy to not accept security codes, or keys to use for police to gain access in an emergency to the island’s 200 some gated communities.

The article goes on to discuss that the Hawaii Fire Department has a universal key lock box system for access that will work for the fire department’s single fire station response, but not the multiple responding officers for the police department.

Gates, such as this unmanned Waiki’i Ranch gatehouse, are a challenge to police needing access

What I found most amazing in this article was the statement that no one knew about this policy, and that it has been around for over a year. That’s right, for over a year, and it’s just now coming onto the front page as news for the public to learn about this policy.

While it is very easy to see that much of the time someone could get to the gate to “meet and greet’ the police and show them to the house or condo, it’s also easy to see how sometimes it may not be that easy. I don’t know…say if maybe I was in the middle of being held up!!! That may be a time that someone would not be able to get to the gate. If there is a resident manager in a condo complex, then you will probably have someone available almost 24/7.

But, many residential communities don’t have anyone available to go the gate to provide access. And, I wonder how many HOA’s don’t even know that this need even exists? I’m sure that if there ever were an emergency, that responding officers felt threatened for the safety of someone inside the gates, that the police would find a way to get in with or without a gate code.

Hey, maybe they’ll do it the same way they do it every week on Hawaii Five-0! I’m also sure that there should be some workable solution to this problem for the police department, just as there is a solution for the fire department.

The West Hawaii article says the mayor and councilman, Pete Hoffmann, are now aware of the issue. So, it may become a topic at future council meetings. I no longer live in a gated community, but if I did, I think I would want to follow-up with this issue with my HOA to see if there are any plans for police admittance in an emergency. This would make for some interesting conversation at an annual HOA meeting!

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