Pubdate: Tue, 07 Oct 2003
Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (HI)
Copyright: 2003 Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Author: Mike Gabbard
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Note: The author is a Honolulu City Councilman representing District 1 (Ewa,
Kapolei, Waianae Coast). To read about the "ice epidemic" in Hawaii, go to .


During the last several months the community has come together to do something
about the crystal-meth problem in Hawaii. We all recognize the pain and
suffering that "ice" addiction causes to our families, businesses and society.
But we'll lose our focus and little will be accomplished unless the current
momentum is kept going. 

Already, there are signs that the public's interest in "ice" is melting away. A
recent House-Senate Task Force on Ice and Drug Abatement forum at the Capitol
auditorium drew less than a dozen members of the public. The citizens of the
Waianae Coast offer a model that shows how to keep the community involved and

On July 24, more than 1,000 residents of the Waianae Coast joined together for
sign-waving and an "Ice Breaker" Town Hall meeting to address the devastating
effects of drug abuse with a particular focus on "ice." 

But the meeting didn't just happen overnight. For six weeks my office partnered
with Ho'omau Ke Ola, the Waianae Weed and Seed program, Ark of Safety Christian
Church, Hina Mauka and many others to coordinate and plan this event that
brought together law enforcement, elected officials, kupuna, social service
providers, churches, unions, schools and area residents to come up with an
action plan to tackle this scourge on our society.

The event planners made it clear that this was not to be the usual gathering of
law enforcement and elected officials coming in and telling the people what
needs to be done to fight ice. Rather it was to be the people telling the
officials what they believe needs to happen and then stepping up to the plate
to help get the job done. At the forum, more than 20 service providers and
neighborhood organizations staffed booths with information on both how to get
help and how to get involved. As we planned for this event, it was our top
priority to make sure that people who attended the meeting didn't just leave
feeling good that they had "done their part." We wanted them to get involved
and stay involved in this ongoing fight. And they did.

Shortly after the forum, a community organization was formed in Waianae called
PA'I (People Against Ice). Pa'i means "to slap" and this grassroots
organization is taking a stand against the drug problem through community
partnerships. Currently, PA'I has about 300 members and has steering committees
including Comfort/Care, Education/Data, Laws/Enforcement, Media/Publicity,
Outreach/Information and Treatment/Intervention.

On Sept. 25, PA'I held a second community meeting with more than 200 people in
attendance. At this meeting, the group focused on signing up people for
Neighborhood Security Watches that patrol their neighborhoods looking for
suspicious activity to be reported to the police department. 

Service providers passed out informational materials on how citizens can get
involved and on opportunities for people who need assistance in dealing with
the consequences of drug abuse. Once again, the strong voices of Waianae came
together united in their commitment to take their community back.

PA'I has been a great success in Waianae and can serve as a model for the rest
of the state. Each community in Hawaii should have a grassroots organization
active and involved in working with law enforcement and government leaders in
the fight against ice and other addictions. We can stiffen laws and invest in
treatment and prevention -- and more prison space -- but until all of us are
truly committed to this war, we don't stand a chance of winning.
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