Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Police Week — a time to honor, remember and celebrate law enforcement officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice — is upon us.
For a second year, the events are quite different amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, the Hawaii Police Department would hold public ceremonies and even offer tours of its police stations, but the coronavirus is still putting a damper on that.
Instead, a small private ceremony was held Monday at Ka Malu Aloha police memorial wall in Hilo to honor Officer Manuel Cadinha, who gave his life in 1918; Officer William “Red” Oili, who gave his life in 1936; Officer Ronald “Shige” Jitchaku, who gave his life in 1990; Officer Kenneth Keliipio, who gave his life in 1997; Park Ranger Steve Makuakane-Jarrell, who gave his life in 1999; and Officer Bronson Kaimana Kaliloa, who was killed in the line of duty on July 18, 2018.
“Traditionally, National Police Week is a time when all police departments and communities throughout America honor and pay tribute to police officers who have died or have been disabled while performing their duties as law enforcement professionals,” Ferreira said during the small event. “Again, This year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, cities across the nation, like ours, face a new reality that restricts how we engage in social gatherings. But this should not prevent us from commemorating National Police Week and honoring those fallen officers, especially those from within our department.”
President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as National Peace Officer Memorial Day in 1962 and in 1994 President Bill Clinton directed the American flag on all government buildings be displayed at half-staff in remembrance of those killed. The week surrounding May 15 is known as National Police Week, a nationally recognized week of activities in support of police work and in recognition of officers who have died or been disabled in the line of duty.
This year, 394 names have been added to the more than 22,000 already on the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington. That figure includes 295 officers who were killed during 2020 and 99 officers who died in previous years.
Two officers from the State of Hawaii are among the additions: Honolulu Police Department officers Tiffany Enriquez and Kaulike Kalama were shot and killed Jan. 19, 2020, when responding to a reported stabbing that ended with the suspect setting fire to the home, killing himself and the home’s owner.
“When a police officer is killed, it’s not an agency that loses an officer, it’s an entire nation. This is something I firmly believe,” Ferreira said.
The Hawaii Police Department also honored officers who’ve died after contracting COVID-19 while performing their job.
According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall, 182 of the 295 fatalities in 2020 were attributed to COVID-19. According to Ferreira, as of Monday, 119 officers have been killed in the duty so far this year, including 63 who died after contracting COVID-19.
“Fortunately for the State of Hawaii, we have not experienced any deaths of law enforcement officers as the result of COVID-19,” he said.
Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.