DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Police officer Zane Hamrick, shown here in his patrol vehicle at the Kailua police station, saved a woman who fell into a sinkhole in Kailua after the Oct. 15 earthquakes. The rescue earned Hamrick recognition as one of the nation's top law enforcement officers. He will receive the honor next week at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. CLICK FOR LARGE
Hawaii's Top Cop
A heroic rescue earns Zane Hamrick national recognition
A 16-YEAR veteran of Honolulu's police force will be recognized as one of the nation's top law enforcement officers for an act of heroism that he considers "just doing my job."
On Oct. 15, police officer Zane Hamrick was directing Kailua traffic away from a sinkhole that developed at Kawailoa and Lihiwai roads as a result of the earthquakes that day.
When a 19-year-old woman's car got stuck in the sinkhole, Hamrick's initial thought was that the car had to be towed, he said. The woman left the car to inspect the problem, and the ground collapsed around her. Hamrick then thought she would be able to get herself out. He walked toward the hole and then he started running.
Hamrick jumped in to the water-filled sinkhole and saved Shannon Sloan, who was submerged in the water. "Suddenly I just found myself in the water," he said.
Several months later, Hamrick received notice that he had been selected as one of 20 law enforcement officers to be recognized by the National Association of Police Organizations.
"I was shocked because I guess I would reserve that award for something larger than what I was involved in," Hamrick said. "I never expected to be given an award for doing my job."
But his supervisor, Lt. Dave Eber of the Kailua Police Station, said Hamrick is one of the district's top performers and is being recognized for his overall contribution as well.
"He's been nominated for officer of the year for the department, too," Eber said. "You don't win an award just for one incident. He's very well rounded in all aspects of police work."
Hamrick, 44, will attend the TOP COPS awards ceremony next Saturday in Washington, D.C. His rescue is among 10 cases being recognized. Hamrick said he dedicates the award "to all of my brother and sister officers of the Honolulu Police Department."
After leaving the Army, Zane Hamrick was self-employed, doing house painting with a buddy. Humble beginnings, he said, but enough for a single man. But marriage and a family forced his hand, and Hamrick, then 27, decided to join the local police force on the advice of his godfather, a retired police major.
Winning the award has given Hamrick some time to pause and reflect on his career.
"Every day is different. Some of the most difficult challenges are how to deal with the public and how to accept and address people's concerns," Hamrick said.
Through his years of work, Hamrick has recognized several qualities in other good officers: empathy, sympathy, patience, compassion, flexibility and a firm stance when needed.
"When you first join, it's taxing on your family, but they have to accept that this is the way police work is," Hamrick said. "We say it all the time: We just want to help people. When there's a chance to do it, we do it."