The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recently honored three Hawai‘i Police Department officers as Officer of the Month for November 2021, December 2021, and January 2022, during an awards ceremony at Huggo’s on the Rocks in Kona on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. The organization’s regularly held monthly luncheons had been on hold for several months due to Covid surges and committee members were thrilled to once again honor the officers in person.
Officer Charles Caldwell-Kaai was honored as Officer of the Month for November 2021, for his proactive efforts that resulted in the arrest of a person responsible for multiple car break-ins. On July 12, 2021, Officer Caldwell-Kaai was conducting beat checks in the Keauhou boat ramp area when he encountered a man in a Toyota pickup truck who was acting suspiciously.
The man told Officer Caldwell-Kaai that he was waiting for a relative who was fishing, however, it turned out that the pickup truck was reported stolen. The man also provided the officer with a fake name. Upon discovering the man’s real name, Officer Caldwell-Kaai learned he had three outstanding warrants for arrest. While arresting the individual for the stolen vehicle and the outstanding warrants, Officer Caldwell-Kaai noticed several items within the truck that had been reported stolen days earlier. Further investigation determined that the man was wanted for seven additional crimes, including auto theft, vehicle break-ins, and theft. He was charged with 11 offenses with bail totaling $14,000.
Officer Elijah Won was honored as Officer of the Month for December 2021, for his dedicated efforts to traffic enforcement. While conducting beat checks in July 2021, Officer Won conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driver that committed a minor traffic violation.
The driver was arrested for a previous unrelated incident and Officer Won noticed that the driver was acting peculiar. Sensing something was off, Officer Won conducted a thorough external visual search of the car and saw a glass smoking pipe used for ingesting crystal methamphetamine. The driver’s car was recovered and in the course of the investigation, a ghost gun —a firearm with no serial number that’s virtually impossible to track— was recovered.
Kona Patrol Officer Reuben Pukahi was honored as Officer of the Month for January 2022 for his selfless actions in helping to rescue two female swimmers in distress. On August 10, 2021, Officer Pukahi, along with Kona Community Policing Sergeant Michael Hardie, were at Honl’s Beach Park on Ali‘i Drive addressing community complaints of undesirable activities in the area. Surf conditions that day made it very dangerous for amateur and inexperienced beachgoers.
While speaking with a young boy about the dangerous surf conditions, the officers observed two older women attempting to enter the water on the opposite side of the beach. Before officers could intervene, the two women entered the water and were quickly separated and swept away by the strong currents. Seeing the women in distress, some area surfers started paddling over to assist them.
Recognizing that the situation was getting worse and more assistance was needed, Officer Pukahi quickly changed out of his police uniform and into his traditional surf attire and commandeered a bystander’s surfboard. Paddling through the surf to one of the women, Officer Pukahi pulled her onto his surfboard just as she was about to be swept onto the rocks and brought her back to shore safely.
Every month the Kona Crime Prevention Committee honors a police officer in west Hawaii as their Officer of the Month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors from the various police districts and a winner is selected by the KCPC board of directors. All officers selected for Officer of the Month are eligible to be selected as the Kona Crime Prevention Committee’s Officer of the Year.