HPD’s Newest Elite 17 Go On Patrol
Wednesday - July 01, 2009
I attended the 163rd police recruit class graduation last week at Neal S. Blaisdell Concert Hall. I’d never been to one before. I went this year because one of the new officers, Grant Mochizuki, graduated in history from the University of Hawaii-West Oahu.
At a school as small as UHWO, you get to know your students well. Grant took a half-dozen classes from me. He usually sat in the back row, where he divided his attention to weightlifting magazines and whatever I was droning on about.
Don’t misunderstand. Grant’s an able and articulate young man. He’s also considerate, generous and possessed of a sense of humor. He’d often come by my office to talk. I’d kid him a lot; he’d kid me back. He was an easy student to like. But the study of history was simply not his passion - at least not compared to weightlifting.
Since his graduation, Grant’s come around a couple of times: first, to tell me about his acceptance to the HPD’s 163rd recruit class, the second time to tell me he’d been chosen by his classmates to give the “remarks by the class representative.”
During both visits, it was obvious that Grant had found a new passion: He wanted very much to become a police officer. He’d lost his weightlifting bulk, and he talked excitedly about the strenuous nature of the training - 1,000 hours of it: physical training, academics, police procedures and more.
Last Monday night Blaisdell Concert Hall was half full of family, friends, the police chief, deputy police chiefs, assorted assistant chiefs, the mayor, the city prosecutor.
And 17 new officers. “On Jan. 5, 2009, 30 strangers gathered who shared a desire to become a Honolulu police officer,” said Sgt. Joseph Doughty, the 163rd’s class supervisor. “Seventeen made it.”
Three women had been among them on Jan. 5; the graduates were all men. Police Chaplain Clarence De Caires Jr. prayed over them, asking that they be granted “courage, dignity and sound judgment.” He also prayed that they “never forget the humanity in all people.”
Deputy Police Chief Paul Putzulu reminded the new officers of the HPD’s motto: “integrity, respect, fairness” and that those “could not be taught by the Police Academy. They were taught by your families, the families that are here tonight.
“And your schooling may be over, but now your learning begins as a police officer. This learning phase will last as long as your career on the police force.”
Mayor Mufi Hannemann spoke as well. He congratulated them on becoming part of the “finest police force in America” and emphasized the important “comforting feeling you bring as first responders to the citizens of Honolulu and our visitors.”
Grant spoke last. He thanked the academy’s training staff, spoke of the diversity of backgrounds among the new officers - “a former Aloha Airlines employee, a former member of the military, a father of six children.” He described how the diverse group had become an ohana and adopted a class motto: “To be gathered together as one to go forward.”
Grant spoke well, looked sharp in his new blue uniform and stood with military bearing. I hardly recognized him. He sure didn’t look like my back-row history student.
I recognized another among the new officers. Dorian Soto majored in justice administration at UH-West Oahu and never took a step into one of my classrooms. But I’d talked with him many times. He and his twin brother worked at my neighborhood Pearl City Longs Drugs. Nice young men, both of them.
So too, I’m sure, are Ty Ah Nee, Leroy Balag, Preston Chu, Chad Fuller, Eric Gamundoy, Jeffrey Gray, Long Huynh, Lawrence Imanil, Richie Langit, Victor Solis, Dana Souza, Fidelis Tunupopo, Ryan Uno, Eric Wadding and Alex Waselesk: the other members of 163rd police recruit class.
Sometime MidWeek columnist and 60 Minutes
commentator Andy Rooney said recently, “Everyone should go to a graduation. It’ll make you feel better.” I’ve attended more than my share of them, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt better, safer and prouder of my city than I did following that of the HPD’s 163rd police recruit class.
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