Badge of courage

LIHUE — A car chase, armed suspects invading the Civil Defense building, and a Green Harvest operation involving marijuana plants and suspects filled Kytin Sukehira’s day Friday.

The 7-year-old was a Kauai Police Department officer for a day, one of his Make-A-Wish requests.

“We had very short notice, but we wanted to make sure Kytin had a very good experience,” said KPD Sgt. Mark Ozaki, who, along with officer Barry Deblake, coordinated the logistics of Sukehira’s experience. “Thanks go out to Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry and Deputy Chief Mike Contrades for all their help in creating this memorable experience for Kytin.”

Amy Sterry, chief operating officer for Make-A-Wish Hawaii, said the Kapaa boy was recently diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukemia, a form of leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells.

“Kytin’s been good about this whole thing,” said Stacie Victorino, Kytin’s grandmother, who along with Kytin’s dad, Joe, and grandfather, Joseph, accompanied the boy Friday. “Kytin really wants to be a policeman. He watches the TV shows and knows how to walk and the actions police do when they get into different situations. He even is on the Internet and knows how they dress.”

Ozaki said Kytin’s request to Make-A-Wish was to be a police officer, secure a part with the “Hawaii Five-0” television series, and just learn more about police work, especially the SWAT team.

“Unfortunately, ‘Hawaii Five-0’ couldn’t make it, but we did do a video with Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.,” Ozaki said. “And we’re making sure he gets a very memorable experience during his tour.”

A new KPD SUV picked up the youngster Friday morning, arriving with lights flashing to a full deployment of KPD forces and greeted by Perry.

“This is the very first assignment for this vehicle,” Ozaki said. “It’s brand new, and other than testing and being equipped for police work, it’s never been used. Its first assignment was to pick up Kytin and his father.”

Once at the police station, Deblake became Kytin’s shadow, walking him through the process of being ID-ed as a KPD officer with the proper credentials, a tour of the KPD facility and becoming acquainted with the routine of police officers, including a stop where he watched a Segway in operation.

His gear of a field jacket, garnished with a gold ‘Hawaii Five-0’ badge, and complete with a laser-equipped sidearm and a operations weapon was topped off with the presentation of a SWAT cap and shoulder patch, which Deblake said is presented only to SWAT officers.

“You have to earn this,” Deblake said. “You can’t just go out and get it.”

As the activity swirled about the little officer, receiving hugs, kisses and gifts at his different stops, his father offered to take off the field jacket.

“No,” Kytin said. “The officer who picked me up said I have to wear it while on duty, and I’m on duty.”

Through the tour, which included a stop at the Incident Mobile Command vehicle, situations punctuated the youngster’s visit, one blaring over the radio of a suspect in a car fleeing from Kalapaki and headed to Vidinha Stadium.

Moments later, sirens sounded as a car zipped along Hoolako Road. Two KPD patrol units followed, sirens sounding and lights flashing, enveloping the youngster in the excitement of officers making the stop and apprehending two suspects while Sukehira backed up the officers.

With barely time to catch his breath, Sukehira was pressed into action when reports surfaced of suspects storming into the Civil Defense building with SWAT officers in pursuit.

This triggered the young Sukehira to assist officers in operating the robot where the keiki officer saw a gun on one of the suspects, relaying the information to the squad leader.

More excitement filled Sukehira’s day, working with the KPD Canine Unit to sniff out drugs on arriving packages, assisting vice officers in the field in securing marijuana plants and helping apprehend suspects.

“It has been a pleasure and an honor having you as one of our officers,” said Perry, handing Sukehira a certificate of his accomplishments.

Sterry said Sukehira will be honored at a going away party today at Brick Oven Pizza where the video will be aired. Sukehira heads to Disneyland on July 15.

Ozaki said once he returns from his trip, Sukehira will start leukemia treatments.

“We just hope he gets through this successfully,” Ozaki said.

Sukehira, beaming from his ride aboard the county’s Air 1 following a morning of being a police officer with the Kauai Police Department, flashed the sign taught him by Deblake — a thumbs up.

“Roger that!” he said, a smile brighter than the morning sun painted across his tiny face.


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