New fence aims to deter elopement


Each gate on the fence is secured with a combination lock, and every gate is located under a street light – Deborah Higa

With the start of spring semester, the long-awaited fence that runs between WCC’s upper campus and the Hawai‘i State Hospital’s lower parking lot was completed. The $25,000 fence was a collaboration between WCC and the hospital to increase security on both campuses and was funded solely by the hospital and installed by the hospital’s plant operations staff.

“I believe the fence will increase campus security immensely,” said WCC student Brandon Gerber. “It will also reassure students that they are protected and serve as a mental reminder that they don’t need to be worried about anything.”

However, Gerber said he wished that there was even more of barrier.

“I think the fence is a good start, although it would be best if the hospital were completely enclosed,” he said.

Tony Fraiola, associate administrator for administrative and support services at the Hawai‘i State Hospital, said that the fence was not meant to completely enclose the hospital.

“This is a rehab hospital, not a prison,” he said. “The fence isn’t to stop elopement; it just makes it more difficult and gives the staff more time to catch up if they do.”

Recently, combination locks were installed so that hospital employees can freely move between the two campuses.

In a Ka ‘Ohana story from last November, WCC Chancellor Doug Dykstra said that additional cameras would be installed at each gate to make sure that those leaving hospital grounds were authorized to do so. However, those security cameras will not be installed, according to Fraiola.

Instead, Fraiola said the state hospital will monitor the comings and goings between the two campuses through panning security cameras in the parking lot adjacent to Hale ‘Ākoakoa that overlooks the gates.

Hospital in-patients who are deemed non-threatening are given roaming privileges as long as they return at night, according to WCC Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Brian Pactol.

However, on Feb. 28, there was an incident of elopement where a patient in the state hospital’s special residential program left the hospital and failed to return. A courtesy alert was sent to UH faculty and students with a brief description of the man and a warning not to approach him due to a history of violence. Another alert was sent later that day announcing that he was taken into custody. This incident happened after completion of the fence.

“If patients are given roaming privileges there should be more security to watch them so they can’t wander too far and potentially hurt others or themselves,” said WCC student Erin Kanda.

However, WCC Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Amy Rozek said she has not had any students come to her with issues about the fence or with the residents passing through campus.

“I do believe that our campus community is very conscious of the fence and residents, especially given the recent UH Alert message,” Rozek said.

Faye Chambers, WCC safety and security manager, also relayed that students have not contacted her on the issue.

In order to further increase campus security, WCC’s Master Planning and Space Allocation Committee (MaPSAC) has proposed to completely enclose WCC with a fence and to construct a security gate at the turnaround area in front of the campus. This would allow security to keep track of who’s on campus.

The MaPSAC also introduced the idea in its long-range site utilization plan that the main access to the state hospital be moved to Po‘okela Street, which will reduce traffic at the turnaround.

In the future, the state hospital may install a side fence near WCC’s Hale ‘Iolani, which resides on hospital property, according to Faiola.

For more information on WCC’s master plan, visit or email MaPSAC committee chair Brian Pactol at


by Deborah Higa, Ka ‘Ohana Co-Editor in Chief