The Hawai‘i State Law Enforcement Officials Association (HSLEOA) honored three members of Hawai‘i Police Department as Officers of the Year during their 67th annual conference in Waikoloa last week.
This was the first time in four years that winners of this prestigious award were announced, as the conference had been on hiatus since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic. Men and women from federal, military, state, and county law enforcement agencies across Hawai‘i were honored for their outstanding dedication and contributions to public safety.
Officers were selected based on distinguished law enforcement and/or exceptional achievement in a law enforcement endeavor, including extraordinary valor, crime prevention, innovative approaches to law enforcement, community involvement, and more.
2020 Officer of the Year: Officer Charles Caldwell-Kaai
A three-year veteran of the department, Officer Charles Caldwell-Kaai was nominated for his outstanding efforts to reduce crime in his community. Working as a patrol officer in the Kona district, he has initiated 1,121 criminal investigations, (362 more than the next highest amount by a Kona officer) and 2,411 miscellaneous public complaints (1,000+ more than the second highest amount.) He has conducted 460 warrant arrests (more than double the next highest amount by a Kona officer), and 506 arrests. Some of these arrests, including an incident in September 2021, have resulted in apprehending suspects involved in substantial drug activity.
Not one to take credit, Officer Caldwell-Kaai shares his knowledge and expertise with his colleagues and is always willing to help them in any way possible. In addition to this HSLEOA award, he was twice recognized as the Kona Crime Prevention Officer of the Month within a 12- month period.
2022 Officer of the Year: Officer Michael Sailer
Puna Patrol Officer Michael Sailer, who has five years of experience with the department, was nominated for his efforts above and beyond the call of duty, that resulted in saving a man’s life and the apprehension of kidnapping suspects.
On June 7, 2022, Officer Sailer responded to a report of a possible dispute at a residence in Volcano. After a search of the area, Officer Sailer heard what sounded like a male party yell for help and someone breathing heavily within the residence.
Officers made entry into the home and observed a man lying on the floor handcuffed with his feet zip-tied and a rag stuffed in his mouth and a second man kneeling on top of the victim. Officer Sailer handcuffed two parties within the residence and then immediately began helping the bound individual, who had sustained multiple injuries. A search warrant was executed on the residence, which resulted in the recovery of multiple firearms and ammunition. A teenage suspect was charged for abuse of a family household member and kidnapping. He was turned over to the custody of the Hawai’i State Sheriffs. The adult suspect was charged for multiple assault offenses, kidnapping, and multiple firearms and ammunition charges.
Through Officer Sailer’s efforts, a life was saved, two violent suspects apprehended and multiple firearms safely recovered. Officer Sailer was also named the 2022 Officer of the Year by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i and the Puna Officer of the Year.
2023 Officer of the Year: Officer Wyattlane Nahale
Kona Community Policing Officer Wyattlane Nahale was honored for his proactive community policing, particularly with spearheading outreach projects for the homeless in West Hawai‘i. The 15-year- veteran of the department initiated the Homeless Outreach Nurturing Our Community (H.O.N.OUR) Project in 2019. The initiative enables homeless individuals to give back to the community through service projects in collaboration with community groups, county government, and law enforcement. In addition, the H.O.N.OUR Project assists homeless individuals with employment, identification, transportation, and housing needs.
Officer Nahale also addresses community concerns and issues in his role as the department’s liaison with the 808 Homeless Task Force in Kailua-Kona and the Kailua Village Business Improvement District. He is also the liaison with the County of Hawai‘i Department Parks and Recreation on beautification projects and coordinates with area Neighborhood and Business Watch programs.
To date, the H.O.N.OUR program has assisted more than 200 houseless individuals with various services including, locating and providing employment opportunities, vehicles, as well as interim stays/permanent housing, medical treatment, food, and more. Officer Nahale was the 2020 Kona Crime Prevention Committee (KCPC) Officer of the Year and has been named KCPC Officer of the month three times.
2023 HSLEOA President and Hawai‘i Police Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz said, “It was an honor to recognize these exceptional officers. While each officer’s story was different, what struck me was how dedicated each officer was to serving and protecting their communities with aloha.”