Friday, February 19

Hawaii Church Turns to Church Security

“A Waikiki church has hired off-duty police officers to provide security during Sunday services after three incidents of disruptive behavior by different people. The doors are now locked except during services at St. Augustine Church at 130 Ohua Ave., breaking a long-standing open-door tradition.”

“One individual, a Middle Eastern man who was a Catholic, came up on the altar during Mass. He wanted to talk to the congregation about the threat of HIV-AIDS, said Akiona. He was persuaded to step down peaceably.”

"Another time, someone with a beef came up on the altar during Mass. The priest happened to be a visiting police chaplain from Oakland and he knew how to handle the situation, Akiona said. “The priest walked the man away from the altar and talked to him later.”

“In the third event, Mass had ended and Akiona was visiting with congregation members.”

"Several people had given me lei because it was my anniversary, said the priest, who is Hawaiian. One guy came up to me and said derogatory things about Hawaiians. I refused to speak to him and he went berserk, screaming and shouting."

“That's when police were called. The priest and his associates decided to hire special-duty officers in uniform to show a presence during February services. There hasn't been any disruption since then.”

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