The Daily Risk Of Being A Cop

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - September 21, 2011

I was as shocked and saddened as you to learn of the death of a Honolulu Police Department officer and the serious injuries suffered by his partner in a recent roadside crash. A police source said privately that the driver of the truck that struck and killed Officer Eric Fontes had fallen asleep. The driver was released last Friday without being charged.

However the details work themselves out, this story provides a good reason to truly contemplate the service of our friends, neighbors and family as police officers.

It’s easy to criticize cops. When a crime is committed, the first thing that’s asked is, “Where were the police?” When a cruiser comes up behind a vehicle, the driver usually gets nervous, anxious and maybe a bit indignant. Nobody wants to see the cops then. If, in the rare occasion, an officer has to fire shots from his service sidearm, then the world seems to explode in a media frenzy.


I understand there are some bad officers in the bunch. I am certain we will be treated to stories about the law-breaking lawmen in the foreseeable future. But the number of troubled officers is far outnumbered by good, solid and upstanding professionals who, in most cases, are following a calling to public safety.

Sometimes we forget that the life of a HPD officer is not glitter and lights. This is not some TV fantasy that some people may actually believe exists. Cases don’t get solved in an hour. Car chases don’t always end up in fiery explosions. An officer’s life is much different.

The reality is the police officer is the epitome of our first line of defense. He/she must deal with people from all socio/economic strata, people who speak different languages, challenging hygiene and issues from the petty to life-threatening. A police officer does not have the luxury of a “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service” sign. Lest we forget, every move by an officer is under scrutiny by the public, the press and his or her own superiors. How would you like doing your job knowing that every single move is documented and could be used against you at any time? Oh, and by the way,, you’re not going to be paid very much either. No thanks.


Here’s the reality. When a police officer leaves his or her family to get to the station, everybody knows this could be the last time they see each other. Sure, it’s a possibility for all of us, but it’s ever so much more meaningful to the spouse of an officer. The terrible story of the roadside accident outside of Nanakuli says it all.

Thank you to all our HPD officers for your tireless service, and sincere condolences on the loss of one brother officer and the injuries suffered by his partner.

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