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HPD recognizes outstanding Officers

Honolulu Police Chief Louis M. Kealoha presented the Bronze Medal of Valor, the Honolulu Police Department's (HPD) third highest award, to four outstanding officers at a ceremony at Mission Memorial Auditorium today.

On March 5, Officers Wade Tamarra and Shayne Sesoko risked their lives to save a man who was trapped when flames engulfed his Waipahu home. The two officers went over a neighbor's wall and saw the man standing outside and refusing to move. Tamarra and Sesoko grabbed the man and carried him through the smoke and heat and over the wall to safety.

The Bronze Medal of Valor was awarded to Officer Jeffrey Tallion. On January 29, Tallion was off-duty and walking through a Mililani neighborhood when he smelled smoke. He located and identified the source as a dryer that had caught fire in an open carport. Tallion quickly unplugged the dryer, turned the gas off, and disconnected the line leading to the dryer. He then helped contain the smoldering heat with a garden hose until firefighters arrived. Officer Lei Ann Yamada, who was with Tallion and also off duty at the time, ran into the residence to check if anyone was home and called the Honolulu Fire Department. For her efforts, Yamada was given a Letter of Commendation.

Corporal Louise Akina received the Bronze Medal of Valor for preventing a woman from committing suicide. On February 15, Akina went to a high-rise building in Salt Lake and saw a woman standing outside the railing of the 20th floor. Akina talked with the woman to calm her and gain her trust before grabbing the woman and pulling her to safety. Officer Severino Bulagay assisted Akina and received a Certificate of Merit for his actions.

Chief Kealoha also presented a Certificate of Merit to Officer Siaosi Saelua for saving a fellow HPD officer who was trapped in his overturned vehicle. On February 14, Saelua went to the Dole Plantation for a burglary case involving stolen golf carts. He and a second officer followed the cart tracks down a dirt road along an irrigation ditch. The other officer drove down the road to check for leads when his vehicle overturned and pinned him in the ditch. Saelua helped keep the officer's head above the rising water until firefighters arrived and freed the trapped officer.

Officer Gerralynn Benanua received a Letter of Commendation for helping a distraught female who was the victim of a sexual assault. The female had locked herself in a hotel restroom and threatened to harm herself and others. Benanua was able to calm the female and gain her trust before paramedics arrived and took her to a hospital.

Corporal Michael Tsuda of the Specialized Services Division is the HPD's Employee of the First Quarter. As a senior tactical training officer, Tsuda conducts weekly training and has an immense enthusiasm for the job. He also volunteers as a coach for the Honolulu Little League and as an event coordinator at Maemae Elementary School.

The Hawaii Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force is the Unit of the Quarter. The unit recovered more than $3 million in narcotics from a major multistate drug trafficking organization. The unit also arrested 12 suspects, executed 15 search warrants, and seized more than $55,000 in cash.