Last spring an apparent suicide was reclassified as a homicide due to tenacious investigative work by Detective Derek Morimoto of the Hawai‘i Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section. Around the same time, South Hilo patrol officer Joshua Willing risked his life during a dangerous rescue when two children were stranded in Wailuku River during a flash flood. Then in November, South Hilo Patrol Officer Sheldon Adviento and new officer Keanu Lumwon apprehended a dangerous suspect wanted on an outstanding warrant.
The dedicated and heroic work of these officers and other members of Hawai‘i Police Department were honored by the East Hawaii Aloha Exchange Club during a recent ceremony at the Hilo Police Station.
Every month the East Hawaii Aloha Exchange Club honors a police officer in East Hawaii as their officer of the month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors from the various police districts and a monthly winner is selected. Winners are normally honored at the East Hawaii Aloha Exchange Club’s monthly meeting, however, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, no meetings have been held since March.
On Tuesday, December 22, 2020, members of the Aloha Exchange Club visited the South Hilo Police Station to honor some of this year’s recipients.
Detective Morimoto was presented with a certificate and recognized as Officer of the Month for May 2020 for his work on a death case. Initially classified as an apparent suicide, the case was re-classified as a homicide due to Detective Morimoto’s investigative efforts and resourcefulness. The case has since been routed to the prosecutor for grand jury action.
Officer Willing was honored for his efforts during the rescue of two minors who became stranded on a rock outcropping in Wailuku River above Boiling Pots during a flash flood. While trying to prevent the parent of one of the children from jumping into the river after their child, Officer Walling was himself swept away and submerged under water. He and the parent were able to get back to safety and both children were rescued in good condition. For his heroism and courage, Officer Walling was named Officer of the Month for April 2020.
South Hilo Patrol Officer Sheldon Adviento and new officer Keanu Lumwon were both honored as Officer of the Month for November 2020 for their diligence and professionalism in apprehending a dangerous suspect wanted for violating probation on an outstanding warrant for robbery, theft, and narcotic use. Apprehended in a retail location, the suspect became extremely combative and the situation could have easily deteriorated were it not for the officers’ professionalism and calm demeanor.
Also honored as Officer of the Month but not present at Tuesday’s ceremony, was retired South Hilo patrol officers Jo Aoki, March 2020.
All Officers selected for Officer of the Month are eligible to be selected as the East Hawaii Aloha Exchange Club’s Officer of the Year.