The Kaua‘i Police Department (KPD) unifies when it comes to keeping the community safe and giving back to those in need during a crisis, and has been nominated as this week’s Hometown Hero because of the department’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sergeant Ginny Pia, of KPD, said it’s been a team effort.
“I would have to say we (KPD) are humbled to be nominated for Hometown Hero because it has not been just one person who has made sacrifices in helping to keep our community safe, it has been our whole department as well as members of our community,” said Pia.
Pia said when the COVID-19 pandemic began there were a lot of areas needed to be covered to protect Kaua‘i’s community, including enforcement of the mayor’s and governor’s orders — including the stay-at-home orders, the mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travelers, and the COVID-19 checks by the police officers in tandem with the National Guard.
On March 26, the Kaua‘i Police Department established the first and only checkpoints in the state, on Ahukini Road; before relocating it to the baggage claim areas at the Lihue Airport where it is today.
“We were screening all arriving passengers and documenting the start of their 14-day quarantine,” said Pia. “I know there was some frustration from the public, but there was also a lot of support in our efforts.”
Pia said KPD’s quarantine efforts would not be as effective without the help from the National Guard, Lihue Airport staff, planning department, airlines, and car rental companies.
Officer Bobby L. K. Thompson, has been with the department for almost eight years and has been at the Lihue Airport checkpoints since they were first operated.
“I was able to assist with first bringing out the Incident Command Center Vehicle and continue to work at the checkpoint up until today,” said Thompson. “I have been honored and privileged to work with an awesome array of various KPD staff, administration, and officers to ensure the safety, wellbeing, and health of our Kaua‘i community.”
Officer Thompson echoed Pia, and said that every KPD employee should be recognized for their daily efforts. He expressed gratitude for his ‘ohana, which has been his rock through the pandemic.
“My wife Roxanne has been instrumental in ensuring that I am healthy, happy, and on the top of my game when I go to work and when I come home,” said Thompson. “I would also like to thank my children for the sacrifice of their daddy’s presence at home to ensure our island can stay safe.”
According to KPD’s Patrol Services Bureau Assistant Chief Mark Begley, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of KPD’s police officers have been working 12 plus hour shifts on a daily basis, enforcing the laws that have been put in place to protect Kaua‘i from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“They don’t like being away from their families and friends,” said Begley. “But, our officers accept and faithfully execute their responsibility to stand in the gap and do what can be done to protect our community.”
Begley agrees with both Pia and Thompson that everyone working for KPD, deserves to be recognized for their significant effort among KPD’s partners in this effort, and it is for that reason that he nominated the entire department.
One of the many community-based efforts KPD has been involved with was the Police, Pastors and Pancakes breakfast giveaway. Held on Saturdays in May and June, KPD helped control traffic flow at the event.
General Manager Fran Roach, of Puakea Golf Course, was also involved in the effort.
“We often had long lines of traffic entering the property and they were wonderful in handing out the food and spreading a positive sense community support to everyone on the island,” said Roach. “We are so blessed to have the wonderful KPD for all they do to protect us and to bring our community together.”
As of Aug. 1st, KPD serves the island of Kaua’i with 150 sworn positions and 55 civilian positions.
Mayor Derek Kawakami said he thanks the hardworking men and women of the Kaua‘i Police Department–from the dispatchers, patrol officers to the administration.
“They respond during every disaster and they work tireless day in and day out,” said Kawakami. “They are strong, courageous, and we are fortunate and blessed to have them.”
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.