DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Sgt. Kim Buffett, right, coordinator of CrimeStoppers Honolulu, stands in the criminal investigation division of the Honolulu Police Department while officer Sheryl Daguio receives a CrimeStoppers tip over the phone. On the cork board are mug shots of fugitives. Buffett has been head of CrimeStoppers for almost two years. CLICK FOR LARGE
The public face of CrimeStoppers
As the face of CrimeStoppers Honolulu, Sgt. Kim Buffett stays connected
» 2,378 felony cases solved thanks to CrimeStoppers
WORK doesn't end for Sgt. Kim Buffett when she walks out of the office for the day.
As she watched her 8-year-old son play in a recent volleyball game, media calls streamed in through Buffett's two cellular phones. The topic: the attempted abduction of a female teenager at a Mililani bus stop.
"It's constant," said the Honolulu CrimeStoppers coordinator. "I have two computers with e-mail. The phones go off. In fact, I forgot my phones. They're probably ringing right now."
"Anybody want to donate a Blackberry?" Buffett joked.
This month marks the second anniversary of Buffett's tenure as the head of CrimeStoppers Honolulu. In December she will celebrate her 20th anniversary with the Honolulu Police Department.
Through broadcast news and radio, Buffett is often in the public eye, seeking the community's help to assist law enforcement solve a multitude of cases that include bank robberies, suspects at large or a missing person.
Since its inception in 1981, CrimeStoppers has served as an critical tool for law enforcement. "Through CrimeStoppers, 95 percent of the cases are solved," Buffett said in an interview in at the Honolulu Police Department.
In the case of Masumi Watanabe, a 21-year-old woman from Japan who was reported missing after taking a walk in Pupukea on April 12, CrimeStoppers received a surge of calls that helped detectives.
Kirk Lankford of Kalihi was indicted by an Oahu grand jury for the alleged murder of Watanabe. Her body has yet to be found.
SERVING AS the middleman between law enforcement and the community translates into an incessant work schedule for Buffett. She juggles meetings with detectives, a flurry of media calls, sending e-mails on the latest unsolved cases and news conferences to get the word out to the public.
On Mondays her phones start ringing at 6:30 a.m. "My hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but my phone does not stop ringing until about 9 o'clock at night," Buffett said.
She oversees a staff of two police officers, a clerk and 33 volunteers. Their office is based at HPD headquarters, allowing them to work closely with detectives.
Every week, she is featured on two radio shows, on KIKI FM 93.9 and KRTR 96.3 FM, calling out to listeners for their help.
Often working through the weekend, Buffett still finds time for friends and her three children, two sons, ages 25 and 8, and a daughter, 6.
Her long career as a police officer was not exactly planned.
A 1978 graduate of Star of the Sea High School, Buffett worked as a bank teller for Territorial Savings during her 20s, then applied simultaneously to be a police officer and a flight attendant with Hawaiian Airlines. HPD called first.
"I had no expectations coming in," Buffett said. "I really had no idea what it was about."
Once out of the police academy, Buffett spent a year and a half on foot patrol in Hotel Street in Chinatown. "There was never a dull moment," she said. "We were the rookies, and we were running end to end -- fight over here, fight over there. It was neat. It was fun."
The red-light district in Chinatown, with bars like Hubba Hubba and prostitutes who lined the streets, figured prominently on her patrol. It was eye-opening, she recalled. Buffett said she built a rapport with the late-night denizens of the district. Some became her best informants.
AFTER SPENDING 6 1/2 years on patrol for District 7 (McCully to Makapuu), Buffett was promoted to Juvenile Services, where she was involved in a program called Gang Resistance Education and Training.
For the next decade, Buffett visited public middle schools, teaching students about gang awareness, bullying, anger management and other issues.
In May 2005, a month before being promoted to sergeant, Buffett was transferred to CrimeStoppers to start training to head the nonprofit group.
Since then she has often worked with detectives in the HPD's Criminal Investigation Division in high-profile homicide cases. "She has always been willing to assist us," said Lt. Bill Kato of the Homicide Detail.
Kato also said Buffett does well balancing her role as a police officer and head of a nonprofit organization, something that he believes would be difficult for most in law enforcement. She understands the perspective of a police officer and a private individual, Kato said.
The part of her job she has yet to adjust to is being in the public eye. While shopping with her friends and children, people at times approach her saying, "Hey, you're that lady!" Buffett said.
Though embarrassed, Buffett said, she is appreciative that residents are attentive. "At least I know they're watching. I know that they're getting our message. That's a good thing," Buffett said. "It's so important that the public know that we need their help."
While her career often tugs her in different directions, Buffett said she cannot imagine doing anything else. "I love my job. I can honestly say that."