NAWILIWILI — Jaiden Sams, a student at Kalaheo School, said he became a Junior Police Officer because it counts as community service.
“Most of the fifth-grade students are JPOs,” said Blaise Silva of Kalaheo School. “We have four squads of eight students in each squad. At Kalaheo School, you can be a JPO only if you’re in the fifth grade.”
The Kalaheo School students were part of 370 JPO who gathered at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club to celebrate the end of a year of duty, enjoying a light lunch and the Disney movie “Moana” in the resort’s ballroom, which was converted to a theater.
“This is great,” said Lt. Jon Takamura of the Kauai Police Department. “Last year, we couldn’t get all the schools to participate. This year, every school with JPO from Hanalei to Kekaha has their JPO here. I thought they wouldn’t enjoy the movie that much, but when the first song aired, wow — everybody here was singing. I guess they’re having fun.”
Takamura said Junior Police Officers help with traffic control and keeping people safe on school campuses.
“When parents come through to drop off students, the JPO help keep the traffic flowing,” Takamura said. “They also watch to see that everyone is safe — within the school’s campus. Duties outside the campus are handled by adult crossing guards. The JPO work inside the school grounds.”
Takamura said KPD also provides training for JPO, as needed.
Students interested in becoming JPO should be getting information for next year’s program from their schools.
“Being a JPO is fun,” said Nila Stedman, a JPO at the Kilauea School. “I started from as soon as I could become one. We do JPO every morning for a half an hour, and after school for half an hour — whenever school is in session.”
Takamura said the JPO celebration is funded through KPD with some help from the Mayor’s Office.
Donors to support the celebration included the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club, Meadow Gold and Frito Lay.
Silva said being a JPO is an easy job.
“The best part of being a JPO is we get candy on Fridays,” he said.