East Hawaii News

Puna Officer Honored For Role in Finding Lost 5-Year-Old

July 28, 2022, 6:33 AM HST
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An East Hawai‘i organization recently honored a Puna police officer for his role in locating a missing 5-year-old.

Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i member Sylvia Belcher with Officer Keao Fessenden-Grace. (Courtesy of Hawai‘i Police Department)

Officer Keao Fessenden-Grace was named the the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i’s Officer of the Month for May. A recent police recruit, just two weeks into his new assignment as a solo patrol officer, Fessenden-Grace played a pivotal role in locating the autistic girl just minutes after she was reported missing. The club honored him for his keen observations and quick thinking during the incident.

Shortly before 6 a.m. April 29, police responded to a report of a missing child in ʻĀinaloa. The parent reported they discovered their young daughter was missing from their home when they woke up and that the child was last seen wearing unicorn print rainbow pants and pink T-shirt.

Fessenden-Grace was at his residence at about the same time preparing for his shift when he heard the sound of a bell and a child’s voice coming from his neighbors’ house across the street. As he left for work, he saw a young female child, about 5 years old, wearing a pink shirt and pink pajama pants, standing on his neighbor’s front porch.

Fessenden-Grace thought to himself that he had not seen that child at his neighbor’s residence before.

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As he pulled out of his driveway and headed to work, Fessenden-Grace activated his department-issued mobile data terminal to get a head-start on the day’s bulletins. He had driven just 100 yards down the road when an active call appeared on the mobile data terminal screen about a missing child in his neighborhood with the same description as the child he just observed.

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Fessenden-Grace went back to his neighbor’s house while notifying dispatch that he thought he located the missing child. As he approached the residence, he saw the child had left the front porch and was walking in the neighbor’s front yard.

Safely located, the young girl was returned to her parents unharmed.

The child was found within 17 minutes from the time her parent became aware she was missing and six minutes after she was reported missing to police. In that short amount of time, the child traveled 6-7 blocks from her residence before being located.

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“Officer Fessenden-Grace’s attention to his surroundings and his commitment in using his (mobile data terminal) to review active calls while on his way to work prevented possible harm to the child and averted a potential major crisis,” a media release from the Hawai‘i Police Department said. “His actions demonstrate the department’s core values of integrity, professionalism, compassion, teamwork and community satisfaction.”

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