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Law Enforcement Honored for Fight Against Drunk/Drugged Driving

May 8, 2019, 5:11 PM HST
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Fatalities caused by impaired driving continue to plague Hawai‘i, consistently placing it above the national average of percent of total traffic fatalities that are alcohol-related. Drugged driving is an increasing problem in our state. It appears, from preliminary data, that the 2018 traffic deaths involving drugs exceeded those involving alcohol by a significant number.

Assistant Police Chief Mitchel Kanehailua, Major Samuel Jelsma, Mayor Harry Kim and Kurt Kendro, board member, MADD Hawai‘i. Courtesy photo.

Since 2012, Toyota Hawai‘i and Mothers Against Drunk Driving Hawai‘i (MADD Hawai‘i) have honored police and prosecutors across the state, recognizing their exemplary efforts in combatting drunk or drugged driving. This annual recognition is part of an ongoing MADD Hawaii effort to raise public awareness and lower fatalities.

Nine Hawai‘i Police Department officers were recognized, as well as two deputy prosecutors. The Toyota Hawai‘i and MADD Hawai‘i Annual Law Enforcement awards were also held on Maui and O‘ahu.

Major Samuel Jelsma received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for Hawai‘i Island. A 28-year police veteran, Major Jelsma has made driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement a priority throughout his career and estimates that he has made more than 500 DUI arrests. In his previous position as a traffic enforcement sergeant, he established new roadblock locations across the Island that resulted in a 179% increase in DUI arrests.

Major Jelsma was one of the first Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) for the Hawai‘i Police Department and in the first group of DRE instructors.  As a standardized field sobriety test instructor for the Recruit Training Academy, he brought in family members of victims killed by drunk drivers to give powerful testimony on how the deaths affected them, which had a tremendous impact on the new officers.

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Later as a patrol lieutenant, he made an unprecedented number of DUI arrests while also serving three tours in the Middle East as part of the Army National Guard.

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When he was promoted to captain, he changed views on DUI enforcement:

“As a captain my wings got clipped and I was specifically instructed that I was not to make DUI arrests myself,” said Major Jelsma. “So if I came across a DUI, it was assigned to patrol officers on shift, but I generated a narrative of the probable cause for the stop. Beginning with my initial Kona Captain position and continuing into my Puna Captain position, I made it a policy that when it comes to DUIs everybody plays (like AYSO soccer). I didn’t buy into the line by officers, “I don’t do DUIs,” my response was “you’re gonna do them now.”

Jelsma oversees Area I, Hawai‘i’s east side districts, and continues his emphasis on DUI and challenges Area II with competitive challenges, helping to keep the number of drunk and drugged drivers off the road.

(L-R) Officer Dayson Taniguchi, Officer Len Hamakado, Officer Jason Miyashiro, Officer Adam Hanes, Officer Jonathan Rapoza, Kona Prosecutor: Deputy Prosecutor Britt Bailey. Courtesy photo.

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Honorees are:

Hilo:

  • Officer Lawrence Kobayashi
  • Officer Wyatt Kaili-Leong
  • Officer Keith Nacis
  • Officer Erhard Autrata
  • Hilo Prosecutor: Deputy Prosecutor Randall Albright

Kona:

  • Officer Dayson Taniguchi
  • Officer Len Hamakado
  • Officer Jason Miyashiro
  • Officer Adam Hanes
  • Officer Jonathan Rapoza
  • Kona Prosecutor: Deputy Prosecutor Britt Bailey

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