3-12-24 Aloha Exchange Club Honors 2023 Police Officer and Firefighter of the Year

Hawaiʻi Police Department                                               
Office of the Chief
Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz                                                        
Phone: (808) 961-2244

Media Release

The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized Puna Patrol Officer Chance Lunsford as 2023 Officer of the Year and Hawai‘i Fire Department Firefighter Anson Arakaki as Firefighter of the Year during a ceremony on Saturday, March 9, 2024, in Hilo.

Officer Chance Lunsford, an eight-year veteran of the department, was recognized for his outstanding work in two separate incidents in which he saved the life of an overdosed person and mere minutes later arrested an operator of a stolen vehicle, which contained illegal narcotics and a firearm.

On June 22, 2023, Officer Lunsford responded to a call of a female who had overdosed in the Kea‘au town area. Upon arrival, he found a woman requesting assistance, indicating that her friend was unresponsive in the backseat of her vehicle. Officer Lunsford observed a woman who was suffering from an apparent fentanyl overdose. He quickly sprang into action and administered several doses of Narcan (naloxone nasal spray). He then removed the woman from the vehicle and continued to asses her well-being. Moments later, she regained consciousness and was transported to the hospital by medical personnel.

Immediately after leaving the scene of the overdose, Officer Lunsford responded to a report of a possible stolen vehicle at a nearby establishment. Officer Lunsford located a vehicle within the fast food restaurant’s drive-thru, and confirmed that it was stolen. Officer Lunsford contacted the man operating the vehicle and subsequently arrested him and recovered the vehicle as evidence.

Police recovered narcotics, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, as well as a firearm with multiple rounds of ammunition, after executing a search warrant on the vehicle.

The suspect was charged for a total of 11 drug and firearm offenses with bail set at $237,000.

“I am extremely proud of Officer Lunsford and his ability to move seamlessly between high-pressure incidents while demonstrating compassion and professionalism,” said Hawai‘i Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz.

Hawai‘i Fire Department Firefighter Anson Arakaki was honored for his s exceptional bravery and dedication to duty after being viciously attacked by five dogs while trying to fight a wildfire.

On March 17, 2023, Firefighter Arakaki responded to a brush fire in a remote area in Puna. While guiding a reversing engine to set up fire suppression efforts, he was viciously attacked by five dogs. With the help of another firefighter and neighbors, the dogs were removed and secured. Meanwhile, the fire was rapidly spreading, posing a significant threat to nearby structures.

Despite his injuries, Firefighter Arakaki continued to pull hose and singlehandedly suppress a corner of the fire. In total, he worked for an impressive six hours at full capacity, in difficult terrain, laying long hose lines, and supporting an understaffed Company 5. Only upon returning to quarters did Firefighter Arakaki seek treatment for his injuries.

According to his supervisor, Captain Matthew Hoeflinger, “Firefighter Arakaki’s main concern was incident stabilization and not leaving his brothers in the field shorthanded.”

“Firefighter Arakaki, an eight-year veteran of the department, demonstrated remarkable professionalism and heart and is a glowing example of a public servant in Hawai‘i County,” said Fire Chief Kazuo Todd.

Every month the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i honors a police officer in East Hawaii as their officer of the month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors from the police districts in Area I, including Hāmākua, North Hilo, South Hilo, and Puna, and a winner is selected.

All officers selected for Officer of the Month are eligible to be selected as the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i Officer of the Year. The club previously honored Officer Lunsford as Officer of the month for June 2023. The Firefighter of the Year nominee is submitted to the Club by the fire chief.

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