East Hawaii News

Aloha Exchange Club Names Officer, Fire Fighter of the Year

March 21, 2015, 3:57 PM HST
* Updated March 21, 3:58 PM
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On the evening of Thursday, March 19, the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai’i recognized its “Officer of the Year” and “Fire Fighter of the Year” in Officer Kelly Moniz and Kyle Vares, respectively. The honors were given at a dinner ceremony.

Officer Moniz is a 10-year veteran of the Hawai’i Police Department, assigned to the Area I Vice Section in Hilo. He received the Thursday evening honor following an investigation that led to the arrest and indictments of high-level drug traffickers.

In 2012, when an individual was arrested for possessing a small amount of crystal methamphetamine, he cooperated with law enforcement and an investigation began. Over the following months, Officer Moniz identified two larger suppliers, including one who dealt in multi-ounce-to-pound quantities of the methamphetamine.

During the four-month investigation, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is composed of Las Vegas police officers and federal special agents from the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration, contacted HPD about a separate investigation being conducted in Las Vegas.

Officer Moniz learned that the supplier he was investigating in Hawai’i was traveling to Las Vegas to pick up large quantities of the drug. Together, the teams planned an operation for the next meeting between the suppliers. HPD task force members followed the suspect and two additional men to Las Vegas, where they were arrested upon meeting with the mainland supplier.

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Following a Las Vegas task force search warrant, the crew recovered 4.7 pounds of crystal methamphetamine, 10 pounds of liquid crystal methamphetamine, 4 ounces of heroin, and $53,000 cash for forfeiture. The investigation revealed that the Hawai’i man flew to Las Vegas each month to pick up multiple pounds of the drug for the past couple of years.

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The three suspects continue to be held at the federal detention center while awaiting trial in federal court.

At the ceremony, Officer Moniz stressed that the methamphetamine distribution investigation was part of a team effort.

“Since joining the Police Department, the only thing I really wanted to do was work in Vice,” Officer Moniz said.

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Vares has been part of the Hawai’i County Fire Department since 2008 and is currently a Fire Prevention Inspector in East Hawai’i. He was honored as “Fire Fighter of the Year” for his exuberant positive attitude while working with the public to prevent fires.

As part of HFD, Vares is considered instrumental in the reviewing of construction documents for fire code compliance, fire investigations, and site inspections to ensure the safety of occupants in businesses and schools.

In August 2013, Vares was promotes to Fire Prevention Inspector I and was tasked with a community program to assist in the installation of smoke detectors in the homes of the elderly. He partnered with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Works union and collaboratively installed smoke detectors in about 74 East Hawai’i homes.

“I find it a blessing to work in the Fire Prevention Bureau,” Vares said in accepting his award.

Chief Darren Rosario described Vares as an employee who “works from the heart” with an attitude that conveys that he’s happy to be there “Everything he does for the Fire Department, he does for the right reason,” Rosario said.

Mayor Billy Kenoi was at the ceremony and presented certificates of commendation from his office to Officer Moniz and Vares. He called the pair “wonderful examples of leaders of our community.”

The honorees were given a plaque from the Aloha Exchange Club, a gift basket of donated items from local businesses, and certificates of commendation from the governor’s office, the State House, the State Senate, and the Hawai’i County Council.

Both the “Officer of the Year” and “Fire Fighter of the Year” awards are projects of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai’i.

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