NUKOLI‘I — Ritchael B. Cariaga is scheduled to deploy to Iraq on Sept. 10 for one year, but before he leaves to serve his country, he made a commitment to serve his island by joining the Kaua‘i Police Department.
Cariaga was just one of six recruits who earned their badges Friday at the police graduation ceremony at the Kaua‘i Hilton Beach Resort.
“They have come at a time of great need, at a time of great change,” Police Chief Darryl Perry said.
The 79th recruit class in KPD history, and the first of Perry’s administration, entered the Police Officer Academy on March 17. The graduates were introduced by ceremony emcee Sgt. Ezra Kanoho, who served as a de facto father figure during the grueling training process.
“I’m very proud of each and every one of them for the accomplishment of graduating, and they look forward to serving,” Kanoho said. “They’re going to make great officers.”
Graduates Hanson S. Hsu, born and raised on Kaua‘i; J. Russell T. Himongala and Cariaga, both originally of the Philippines; Mackenzie B. Metcalfe, of Knoxville, Tenn.; class speaker Michael P. Buratti; and most outstanding police recruit Scott P. Williamson were sworn in by 5th Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano, taking the oath of office and receiving their badges.
“In the coming days and years you will face many challenges and new responsibilities. Our swiftly changing world requires all of us to be flexible and able to adapt to new, unusual and potentially dangerous situations at a moment’s notice,” said Mayor Bill “Kaipo” Asing. “On behalf of all of the people of Kaua‘i, I thank you for your willingness to do whatever it takes to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. We are extremely proud of your efforts thus far, and we will stand behind you every step of the way.”
Cariaga is scheduled to deploy to Iraq on Sept. 10 for one year, according to Kanoho. The other new officers will immediately begin their three-month field training alongside seasoned officers and will fill important gaps, potentially starting their first shifts yesterday evening.
“It’s going to be a good supplement to our shortages,” said Assistant Chief Roy Asher, who was among those to help during the training process. “I was very impressed with them, and only heard positive things from the other instructors. It’s a very mature group.”
“It’s going to help us, but we have a long way to go. We still have a number of vacancies,” said Perry, who also said that the class marked a new beginning for the department. “They were the first to be introduced to our new mission statement. It’s just a change in the way we look at law enforcement, more service-oriented, more involved with the community.”
During their short addresses to the crowd, the new officers thanked their families for their support and spoke about the feeling of brotherhood with their fellow graduates.
“It feels really, really good. We’ve been working very hard, very diligently,” said Buratti, who compared the Academy to a combination of Army Boot Camp and Law School. “You have got to put your all into it, and even though you’re putting your all into it, that’s not quite enough. You need the support of your friends and the support of the people there. As a class, we came together really tight.”
After celebrating their accomplishments together, the new officers were focused on the future.
“I’m just anxious to get out on the road,” said Metcalfe. “You can read things in a book, and do exercises, but the road is unpredictable. I feel the training was very excellent, and we’re ready to get out there.”
“It feels great, and I’m looking forward to serving the community,” said Williamson.