Cops who leave
isles take aloha
In King County, Wash.,By Jaymes K. Song
former Hawaii officers have
formed a big ohana
Detective Malcolm Chang looks into the eyes of the newest King County deputies and sees lonely and homesick Hawaii boys starving for a plate lunch.
"Us old-timers, we say, "Man, we went through the same thing,'" said Chang, a 16-year-veteran with the King County (Wash.) Sheriff's Office and a former Honolulu police sergeant.
But in two weeks, the deputies will finally have an opportunity to have a plate lunch and "talk story" with other Hawaii natives at the 11th Annual Northwest Maka'i Ohana Ho'olaule'a.
More than 300 people are expected at the Aug. 14 luau in Maple Valley, Wash., which runs from noon to "whenevas." Among them are six former Honolulu officers who just completed training and were sworn in on Tuesday.
That brings to 29 the number of former Honolulu officers on the King County force.
So far this year, 32 Honolulu officers have left for mainland departments. Dozens of others have retired.
Northwest Maka'i Ohana
Five police dispatchers have also accepted jobs at mainland departments this year.
In fact, July marked the first month in 1999 in which the Honolulu Police Department did not lose an officer to a mainland department.
An official at the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers said its members are leaving for higher-paying mainland law-enforcement jobs. Sgt. Richard Wheeler sees July as just a lull, perhaps caused by officers having difficulty selling their homes, or having second thoughts.
"No, (the exodus) is not over," said Wheeler, SHOPO's Oahu chairman. "It's continuing and we're going to lose more officers."
For those who have gone to the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Maka'i Ohana offers a little piece of Hawaii.
The group was founded 11 years ago by a handful of police officers in the Seattle area who would hang out and talk about Hawaii every month.
The annual celebration and the ohana have boomed in the past few years.
The group hopes to host a Hawaiian music concert to share a taste of the islands with the people of Seattle, and to raise money for academic grants and scholarships.
At this year's ho'olaule'a, "We're going to have kalua pig, lomi salmon, chicken long rice, poi," said Chang.
"We also have raw fish, crab and squid coming up straight from the islands."