“Everyone hates us – pretty much.” Sadly, these were the sentiments of a Maui police sergeant when corresponding with one of my family members who drafted a letter of appreciation for one of their officers. Furthermore, these sentiments reflect the ongoing deflated spirit among law enforcement officers in America.
While most peace officers cognitively know the majority of good citizens appreciate our effort, it is the vocal opposition with a bullhorn that makes news headlines. As a result, police feel “beat down.” And in our culture of videos going viral, cops need to think twice before opening their mouth or taking action, because candid cameras are everywhere.
While this strategy sounds wise to the general public, and I’m not discounting it, a police officer who hesitates at the wrong time can find his or her name on a memorial.
- COLIN KAEPERNICK REFERS TO MODERN POLICE AS ‘RUNAWAY SLAVE PATROL’
- COMEDIAN GEORGE LOPEZ: DEPORT THE POLICE
- MOST CITIZEN COMPLAINTS AGAINST POLICE ARE UNFOUNDED
My nephew—who is a professional man in his 40s—was motivated to write the commendation after watching a Maui police officer bake in the scorching sun while performing a thankless job. Moreover, during his stay he became aware of a local protest in which law enforcement officers were maligned. As a result, he was compelled to articulate his appreciation as a vacationing, temporary resident.
I’ll let his letter provide the back-story and place the accolades of Maui Police Department in proper context.
Letter of Commendation
August 11, 2017
County of Maui
55 Mahalani St.
Wailuku, HI 96793
Attention: The Honorable Tivoli Faaumu, Chief of Police
Dear Mr. (Chief) Faaumu:
On behalf of myself and our family, I am writing this letter as a commendation to one your officers, whom we observed throughout the day on August 2 during our recent visit to Maui. The uniformed officer was posted all day at the intersection of S. Kihei Rd. and Kulanihakoi St., across the street from the condominium complex where we were staying. There is ongoing construction at the southeast corner of the intersection, causing the westbound lane of Kulanihakoi to be blocked off that day. There was an open pit in the street near the curb as well, where the construction crew was primarily working. The officer seemed to be tasked with making sure that vehicles were navigating the intersection safely, and also watching to keep safe the crew working in the pit.
I was up early that same day while going for a surf down at Big Beach. My memory is that the officer and crew were there by at least 7 am when I left and again when I returned home. I noticed him again at the same post when we left the condo for a beach day around 11 am, and when we returned home around 3 pm. It was a particularly hot day, and the officer was in full sun each time I saw him. It was remarkable enough to me that I brought him a cold water bottle and expressed our appreciation for what he was doing. He gratefully accepted and reciprocated his appreciation. When we left the condo again around 5:30, the crew was gone but the officer and squad car were still there wrapping up. I regret that I do not know his name.
The point of this long story is that from my perspective, the officer was doing a mundane and thankless job, in an uncomfortable environment, for the benefit of mostly unnoticing eyes. He was, in reality, rather acting as a lifeguard. I was once an ocean lifeguard in my youth, and can well remember the time passing slowly on most days when seas were calm. And even that job had the retreat of a tower to escape the sometimes harsh elements.
I contrast the story of this officer with news I heard on the radio and read in the paper about the telescope convoy protest on Haleakala just 2 days later. Reading about this incident, the disrespect those people showed toward your officers (by both their actions that night and comments afterward), made me think of how they would feel about the lonely officer standing watch over our little Kihei intersection. Would they also disrespect that officer for simply trying to ensure their safety as they blithely go about their day? Is it not the same thing with the officers that accompanied the telescope convoy, to keep both the convoy personnel and general public safe in a tense situation?
Notwithstanding the protest incident, I would still feel compelled to write this commendation letter, to give credit to both the anonymous officer and also to your department. We enjoyed our recent visit to Maui, as we have many other times in the past and look forward to visiting again.
People like to complain a lot about their government and the services it provides – that it is slow, inefficient, even heartless at times. I must confess I’ve done it many times too. But in this small way, let me say thank you. Please circulate this among your officers and supervisors.
The McNeff Family – Carlsbad CA
Mike, Michelle, Makena, Morgan
Sgt. Heather Gilroy of the Maui Police Department told my nephew, “All of us were up here,” on the mountain during the day of the protests. So while people justify their upheaval, they are shortsighted. Their actions caused unnecessary turmoil, not to mention it left others unprotected since resources needed to be redirected to stabilize their destabilizing ambitions.
My nephew ended one email correspondence with Gilroy stating, “Not everyone hates Maui PD.”
Indeed they do not!
Finally, on behalf of people on the mainland, we’d like to say, “Mahalo” to Sgt. Gilroy and Chief Faaumu. And we’d be remiss if we failed to thank the unnamed officer working his post in the hot sun. I hope they’ve identified him. Well done MPD!
– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today