Big Island police, students celebrate DARE Day in East Hawai‘i

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The Hawai‘i Police Department and its school resource officers send congratulations to the 2024 graduates of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, also known as DARE.

The Hawai‘i Police Department and students from several East Hawai‘i schools celebrated DARE Day on May 23 in Hilo. (Photo courtesy of the Hawai‘i Police Department)

East Hawai’i students from Hilo Intermediate, Waiākea Intermediate, Pāhoa Elementary, Kea‘au Elementary and Pāhoa Intermediate schools on May 23 celebrated completing the DARE program.

This year’s event was especially meaningful as it was the first large gathering of DARE graduates since 2019, after a hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hosted at the Kawamoto Swim Stadium in Hilo, the day began with master of ceremonies Capt. Roy Valera delivering opening remarks to more than 600 enthusiastic students in attendance.


Police Chaplain Renee Godoy gave the benediction, followed by the presentation of colors by the Hilo Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and singing of the National Anthem by Kaylan Gomes of Honoka‘a High School.

Hawai‘i Police Department Chief Ben Moszkowicz then gave his opening remarks and words of encouragement before awarding the students with a day of fun and excitement for all of their hard work.

After the opening ceremony and the students reciting the DARE pledge, they were presented with a scenario reenacting a traffic collision.


Big Island police worked with the Hawai‘i Fire Department in simulating how medics would provide aide in the event of a collision that resulted in severe injuries. The Fire Department’s police helicopter arrived and airlifted the victim out of the area, much to the amazement and cheers of the students.

Students were also treated to a demonstration by the Police Department’s Special Response Team addressing a bomb threat using a robot.

The event also featured waterslides, swimming, carnival games and other activities. A tug-of-war championship between the schools resulted in Waiākea Intermediate School winning. A perpetual trophy will be displayed in the school’s trophy case.


The Hawai‘i Police Department extends its gratitude to public and private volunteer groups for assisting with the event, as well as to county agencies, particularly the Hawai‘i County Parks and Recreation Department and Prosecutor’s Office, for donating many of the prizes handed out that day.

Big Island police hope the DARE Day celebration will continue to grow in appreciation among the students who completed the program.

DARE is a nationally recognized initiative that teaches students how to make good decisions, be responsible and handle bullying and peer pressure.

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