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Residents appeal to Okinawa City Police not to move station

Date Posted: 2008-02-19

Plans are afoot to relocate the Okinawa City Police headquarters as part of a road construction plan to reduce traffic congestion in the heavily populated downtown area, and citizen groups are asking the police not to let it happen.
The sexual assault – alleged rape incident in Okinawa City only nine days ago has many residents and groups fearful it could happen again, and are begging their police “Please don’t move away. Otherwise we can’t be guaranteed safety,” is the appeal of ten groups representing residents and the local tourism association.
“Nobody knows and can guarantee that the same type of scandal won’t happen again,” says another resident, insisting “the Okinawa Police Station should always be near residents or American military bases so they can protect residents and children.” Citizens are arguing that if the police station is moved, social safety and security will become poor in Okinawa City.
Police contend its services will not change when the Okinawa City Police headquarters moves. The station is responsible for patrolling Gate 2 Street, as well as Ishikawa and Gushikawa areas. “Even if we move away,” a senior officer says, “Gate 2 Street is going to be the most important patrol area, and it’s not going to change at all.” He promises police will “protect the citizens if anything bad happens by the American military, and if it happens outside the military base. It’s our responsibility.”
The current police station is in the midst of the worst area of Okinawa City for traffic jams and crowds, and citizens have been complaining for years for relief from the heavy traffic. Prefecture road construction planning calls for the station to be moved to permit road widening. The road redevelopment project planning began in 2005. Police think it’s a good idea, noting access to the present station is narrow, and there’s not enough parking for citizens and staff. “We have to have a better place. We need a bigger area,” says a police spokesman.
Prefecture and Okinawa City officials say the new police station site has not been chosen yet, but some citizens contend “The new location has already been decided.” Officials say that’s wrong, and that they’ve not even found a place to move the Okinawa Police Station, and there’s been no negotiation to purchase any land.

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