LIHUE — Standing in front of a group of about 50 people, Edward Myers thanked his family and the families of his fellow recruits for being understanding about their call to serve.
“Without your support, patience and love, the six of us wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said. “We understand your fear, and that you will be worried about us. We understand the relief you will feel when we walk through the door at the end of our shift. We appreciate you understand our need and commitment to this profession, and we promise to make you proud of us.”
On Thursday afternoon, Myers, Anthony Chavez Jr., Kinsey Gregory, Kevin Kamakahi, Alexander Lacson Jr. and David Phillips, from the 88th Police Recruit Class, were sworn in as the newest officers of the Kauai Police Department.
The graduation ceremony is the culmination of six months and over 1,400 hours of classroom and reality-based training.
Their first day of training was in January and together, they completed the 28 weeks of training. Today, they will be assigned to a field training officer, starting their career as KPD officers.
“On Jan. 9, our journey in public safety began. Six individuals who never met were about to embrace numerous hours of classroom training in hopes of fulfilling their dream of sworn police officers,” Myers said. “Facing new challenges, it was clear we would motivate each other.”
During the ceremony, Mary Kay Hertog, chair of the Police Commission, said there is no better calling than being a police officer.
“In my opinion, you don’t just have a profession. You have a calling,” she said. “There’s very few jobs where you have to take an oath of office.”
When she met the recruit class seven months ago, she asked them the same question: Why did they want to be a police officer?
“You all pretty much said the same thing — ‘I want to make a positive difference in the lives of people, and I want to serve my community,’” she said. “I think that’s the best reason to be a police officer, and I ask you to remember those reasons.”
Because no one calls 911 when they’re having a good day, Hertog said.
“You’re going to meet people and see people at their most vulnerable, at their worst and their lowest points in their lives,” she said. “They’re going to depend on you to resolve the situation, and that’s where you have to rely on your training.”
Despite being trained in lethal and non-lethal weapons, the most effective weapon an officer has is their brain, Hertog said.
“That connects with your words and actions. And 90 percent of the situations you encounter, it’s going to be how you act and the words you say that can either escalate a situation or bring it to successful completion,” she said.
Chief Darryl Perry took time to remember officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
There have been 69 officers killed around the nation in the line of duty since the beginning of the year. Since Perry became chief in 2007, there have been three officer-involved shootings on Kauai, he said.
“There’s no other job that comes with a roller coaster of emotions when having to defend yourself against someone high on PCP or other drugs, or investigating a gruesome traffic fatality, an abused child or elderly member or sex assault,” Perry said.
During the ceremony, training officer Todd Tanaka handed out three awards — one for physical fitness, one for marksmanship and one for overall outstanding police recruit.
Chavez,who is from California, was awarded both the physical fitness and marksmanship awards. Gregory, the only female recruit, was given the overall outstanding police recruit award.
The ceremony ended with the class taking an oath of office and being pinned with a police badge.
“It wasn’t easy, but then again, the grueling hours of working in public service, especially as a police officer, is not known to be easy,” Myers said. “However, it was rewarding raising the American and Hawaiian flag every morning, listening to Lacson play ‘Reveille’ on his trumpet and putting those flags to rest every night. It made us realize we chose this profession to serve the community, and we are ready for this long journey ahead of us.”