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HPD Medals of Valor presented to five

Honolulu Police Department (HPD) Chief Louis M. Kealoha presented the department's Medal of Valor to four officers and a private citizen today. The five individuals were among 31 officers and citizens recognized at a ceremony at the Mission Memorial Auditorium today.

The Bronze Medal of Valor (the department's third highest award) was presented to Officers Grant Mochizuki, Aaron Watanabe, Stephen Kardash, and Edmund Ho. The Civilian Medal of Valor was awarded to Mr. Spencer Hafoka.

On Thanksgiving Day last year, Officers Mochizuki and Watanabe were sent to the Queen Emma overpass and arrived to see a distraught woman sitting on the overpass with her legs dangling over the edge. The two officers cautiously approached the woman, climbed over the guardrail, and managed to simultaneously pull her back from the edge. As a precaution, Officers Steven Lee, Joshua Charles, and Nicholas Pannoni had stopped traffic on the freeway below. The three officers received Letters of Commendation for their actions.

In November, Officers Stephen Kardash and Edmund Ho risked their lives to rescue a man who had begun climbing over the railing of an eight-story apartment building on Kinau Street. The man fought the officers' efforts, but they prevailed and managed to pull him to safety.

Mr. Hafoka was working as a recreation specialist in December when he saw a snorkeler struggling in high surf and rough water near the Turtle Bay resort. By the time he reached the woman, she had been pulled under the water. Despite the rough conditions, Mr. Hafoka was able to find her and pull her to the surface. Mr. Alex Origel assisted him in carrying the unresponsive swimmer to shore and performing CPR. Mr. Origel was given the department's Civilian Certificate of Merit for his efforts in the rescue.

Chief Kealoha also presented Certificates of Merit to ten officers for their bravery and assistance rendered in 2013. Lieutenant David Yomes and Officer Blake Arita were recognized for stopping a Waikiki driver who struck several vehicles and almost hit an officer last January. In April, Officer Victor Solis helped save a man who tried to hang himself after calling 911. In September, Officer Nicolas Vanhouten talked a distraught, homeless man out of jumping from a freeway overpass. Officer Dominic Quiacusan's bravery saved a theft suspect from harming himself in November. In the same month, Officer Rodney Jay forced his way into a home in Aina Haina to find an 88-year-old woman who had fallen and could not get up. Additionally, Officers Martin Min, Charmaine Freeman, and Douglas Dunkirk teamed up to talk a suicidal male out of jumping from the H-3 Freeway. In November, Officer Christopher Nutter and a Honolulu fire captain used an automated external defibrillator and CPR to save a man's life after he suffered a heart attack; Officer Kevin Lau was given a Letter of Commendation for assisting with the rescue.

Messrs Glen Toyama and Tino Geronimo and Ms. Joelryne Geronimo were presented Civilian Certificates of Merit. The Geronimos were at home on Christmas Day when they noticed two unresponsive persons in their neighbor's pool. The Geronimos and
Mr. Toyama pulled the couple out of the pool and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.

Mr. Peter Dela Cruz was presented the Civilian Certificate of Merit for aiding an HPD officer who was attacked by a homeless male in the Chinatown area in December. The suspect tried to strangle the officer, and Mr. Dela Cruz helped restrain the suspect until other officers arrived.

Mr. Michael Lyons, a retired HPD sergeant, was given a Letter of Appreciation for helping to calm a hostile crowd at Haleiwa Beach Park in August. Two officers were preparing to have a vehicle towed when the vehicle's owner and his acquaintance began yelling and blocking and damaging the vehicle.

The District 3 (Pearl City) Community Policing Team (CPT) was selected as the Unit of the Fourth Quarter. Team members have reached out to 13,000 citizens of all ages to help reduce crime and improve the community. From October to December, the CPT dealt with issues ranging from the homeless to park complaints to traffic violations. The CPT members are Sergeant Shellie Paiva and Officers Jacque Fukunaga-Kaneshiro, Anson Paiva, Kose Godinet, and Ke Alii Makanani.