HAWAII COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF THE POLICE CHIEF
MAY 15, 2003
The Hawaii County Police Department paid homage Thursday (May 15, 2003) to three of its own among the more than 14,000 U.S. law enforcement officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.
The occasion was the 41st annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, held on March 15 every year to honor federal, state and local law enforcement officers who have lost their lives while on duty.
During brief remarks to a small crowd who gathered at the Hilo Police Headquarters, Police Chief Lawrence K. Mahuna noted that being a police officer involves more than a 40-hour a week job. It requires a commitment of “24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” he said.
Since the terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, Mahuna said, police officers across the country have become a part of the war against terrorism.
In addition, he said, the Big Island is fighting its own form of “domestic terrorism” — the widespread use of crystal methamphetamine, or “ice,” and its related crime problems.
“The ice epidemic has caused a change in the way people live, how they protect their property and how they protect themselves,” he said.
He said the police department is committed to creating an environment where the Big Island is “free of drugs and free of gangs….”
William P. Kenoi, executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, noted that in times past, Big Island residents used to feel free to leave their homes without locking their doors.
He said the county administration wants to return to a safe community where people once again feel free to leave without having to lock up their houses.
“The only way our community can be that safe is to support our police officers and the job they do,” Kenoi said.
Horace Hara, chairman of the Hawaii County Police Commission, recalled that the police department has lost three officers in the line of duty.
They are Officer Manuel Cadinha, who lost his life in 1918; Officer Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, who was killed in 1990; and Officer Kenneth Keliipio, who died in 1997.
In addition to the three Big Island officers, the ceremonies honored also Honolulu Police Officer Glen Gaspar, who was killed earlier this year trying to apprehend a suspect wanted for attempted murder. Gaspar’s brother, Gilbert, is a detective with the Kona Criminal Investigation Section.
Councilman Leningrad Elarionoff, a former Big Island police officer, also spoke at the ceremonies.
After the playing of taps and lowering of the U.S. and state flags to half-mast in memory of fallen law enforcement officers across the United States, the ceremonies ended with the lighting of four candles by family members of the three Big Island officers and Honolulu officer who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The Waiakea High School JROTC, Hilo High School Viking Band and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program’s Keola Pono No Na Kupuna also took part in the ceremonies. Police Sergeant Duane Rapoza served as master of ceremonies.
Thursday’s memorial ceremonies marked the high point of Police Week, May 11-17, which is held each year to honor police officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.
Police Week has been celebrated since 1962, when President John F. Kennedy proclaimed May 15 of each year as Police Officers’ Memorial Day and the calendar week on which May 15 falls as Police Week.
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