Night shift for officers, a ‘crap shoot’

Dense with variables that could tip the scales in either direction, anything seems possible during a police shift.

Moon cycles, cruise boat arrivals and at-large fugitives contribute to the ebb and flow of calls that officers receive, whether it’s a fender bender, shooting, or a series of high speed chases.

Though officers drive sans partner, or solo, several have made it common practice to back each other up by handling cases together, whenever possible.

That’s how it is for officers Jason Matsuoka and Wade Takemoto, who, when on duty, cover the entire Lihu‘e beat in two separate cars.

Knowing when they show up for work that what they face is essentially a “crap shoot,” the two take each call seriously, but also handle residents in emotionally intense situations with a sense of calm reason.

One of the most common types of calls during the night shift is domestic abuse, Matsuoka said, while on a ride-along with a The Garden Island reporter in the patrol car.

On what would otherwise be a non-descript Friday, residents stopping at the

7 Eleven convenience store opted to stick around and watch as an enraged wife threatened her husband and the woman to whom he was giving a ride.

Immediately upon arrival, Matusoka and Takemoto went in opposite directions, one talking to the wife to calm her down, the other taking to the woman across the parking lot.

“We try to separate the parties,” Matsuoka said. “If they start getting in each other’s faces and we realize we’ve got to leave or somebody’s going to get arrested, we don’t want it to escalate.”

If it appears things aren’t cooling off, the officers might impose a 24-hour warning notice in which one of the parties is ordered to stay away from the other one.

In the case of this altercation, Matsuoka agreed to give the woman a ride to another

7 Eleven store so she wouldn’t be the target of another possible assault from the enraged wife.

Other prevalent calls include visits to the mall, as fights break out often on weekends, when the stores burgeon with mostly teens, and all sorts of other Kaua‘i residents.

After interviewing two juveniles who got into an argument, Matsuoka, Takemoto and the private security detail at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center executed orders to ban one of the teens for two years for the disruption.

“We get calls here every week,” Takemoto said, explaining the stern punishment, “I think they were setting an example.”

The mall is private property, so its management can decide who is permitted to enter.

The demographic of mall traffic is largely dependent on time of year, as is the number of calls during another season upon us: Spring Break.

That said, the age range of those who call 911 is indiscriminate, sometimes when it’s not even an emergency, as both officers have experienced first hand.

After receiving an anonymous prank call from a 4-year-old, the two were quick to explain to the child that it’s reserved for emergencies.

“We don’t want to punish, just want to educate,” Matsuoka said.

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