Hawaii Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, around 50 members of the public, police officers based in both Kona and Hilo, and County Mayor Billy Kenoi and county employees recognized Police Week on Thursday at Kealakehe Police Station. Police Week is recognized every May around the country to honor and remember both fallen and injured peace officers and to thank existing police officers.
Aunty Elaine Watai’s Kealakehe Community Watch team members, all students at Kealakehe schools, provided hula. Vice Officer Scotty Aloy brought out his drug dog for a demonstration of the dog at work.
Officer Ed Buyten acted as Master of Ceremonies. County Deputy Managing Director Wally Lau presented a scroll signed by several county employees, thanking officers for their work. Bobby Command, also from the Mayor’s office, read a proclamation from Mayor Billy Kenoi. And Chief Kubojiri spoke of the losses.
Chief Kubojiri said some say Hawaii Police Department is lucky to have lost only four officers who died in the line of duty during the Department’s existence. The officers who have died over the years are Manuel Cadinha (1918), William “Red” Oili (1936), Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku (1990), and Kenneth Keliipio (1997). Chief said while it’s good not to have lost more, the loss of these four tugs at the heart of every Hawaii Police Department officer—and it’s a loss as real today as when it happened.
Hawaii County has 430 sworn police officers and 135 civilian employees. Over the last year, 61 officers have been injured in the line of duty. Chief Kubojiri says our police officers, men and women, face dangers daily and never know what their day will hold. He said his objective is to have each and every one return safely home every day.
The Police Week Ceremony at Kealakehe Police Station concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony and a 21-gun salute delivered by officers of the Special Response Unit (Hawaii County’s version of the SWAT team). Dan Frank of the Hawaii County Band gave an emotional rendering of taps on the bugle.