Driven To Prevent Trouble
By Chad Pata
Having worked in Waikiki in the nightclubs and later as a plainclothes officer, Kawika Hallums has become the nightlife version of the friend with a truck: Everyone is calling for a favor.
“People are always calling me up, ‘Hey Kawika, you know someone at Zanzibar, can you get me in?’ and if I can, then can,” says Hallums, a former point guard for the University of Hawaii basketball team.
But the idea of turning his connections into a business did not occur to him until 2004, when he and some friends were brainstorming about business ideas. This gave birth to Ho’okipa Enterprises, a concierge and driving service for the nightclub set.
While the idea is not new - there are several driving services in the Islands - the melding of the club connections with the service allows for a much more enjoyable evening out.
“When we take you to the club, we don’t just drop you at the front door,” says Hallums, who has been with HPD for seven years now. “We take you in, set you up at a table and introduce you to people.”
This appeal has brought Hallums customers ranging from high-ranking bank officials to celebrities visiting the Islands. Beyond the hookups, Ho’okipa is entirely staffed with men with at least five years of law enforcement experience. Their motto: “We got you.”
“You know when you go out things are going to pop up, everything is not going to go according to plan,” says Hallums. “But I have 25 years’ experience going out down there, we are going to make sure they have a fun, safe time. We knew where to go and where not to go.”
Safety is of the utmost importance to them, which is why they also offer their “Deuce” service, where they will pick you up if you are intoxicated - one driver will drive you home in their Escalade and the other will get your car safely home.
“We always think we can handle, it is a mistake we all make,” says Hallums. “When I talk to my clients they appreciate the genuineness of me. I’m not coming up to them saying ‘Hey, guys, stop it.’ I’ve been there, we’ve all been there, and I understand.”
This eliminates one of the biggest reasons people drive while impaired: fear of their car getting towed. While the service costs more than a cab ride, it is a whole lot cheaper than getting your car ticketed and towed out to Sand Island.
“It’s a service that’s needed; all the people who are having trouble with the law, the actors (from LOST) they could have just called me,” says Hallums. “(They could have) avoided all this publicity, could have saved them thousands of dollars by paying us a hundred bucks to take them home. It’s about damage control. You can lose work because of this - or look at Michelle Rodriguez, she’s in jail. She could have just called me.”
While preventing DUIs is in line with his HPD training, the idea of taking care of people is what his childhood was all about.
“People who know me know that this is what I was made to do,” says Hallums. “I always take care of people. That was given down to me ‘cause of the people who took care of me.”
Life was not easy for Hallums growing up, as he was the product of a broken home where his father left him when he was 6 and mother was in and out of his life. Instead, the local community raised him: Grandparents, aunties, parents of his friends all pitched in to take care of him and his brothers and sisters.
“That was where I learned to take care of people. I grew up in the Samoan culture, the Filipino culture,” says Hallums of his many homes here in Hawaii. “And there are times I overex-tend myself helping others, but that is because so many people overextended themselves for me growing up.”
He continues to fill his days by helping others. Beyond Ho’okipa and his police work, he also has begun a nonprofit to run clinics on the Leeward side, teaching basketball, football and baseball to underprivileged kids. It is his way of reaching out to those whose childhood is as rough as his had been.
“There were a lot of times I could have gone over to the wrong side of the law,” says Hallums. “But instead I just filled my time with sports.”
While many have inspired Hallums through the years, it was the time he spent with Waikiki’s most legendary luminary that finally got him motivated to get the business rolling.
“Don Ho gave me his full blessing and he told me, ‘Are you willing to sacrifice to get this done?’” says Hallums, whose first gig with Ho’okipa was driving for Don Ho’s funeral. “That meant a lot to me, as he is the man of entertaining and taking care of people.”
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