A Final Salute to Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa

On July 17, Officer Bronson K. Kaliloa of the Hawai’i County Police Department conducted a high-risk traffic stop of a wanted subject on Highway 11, in Kukui Camp Road, Mountain View. Officer Kaliloa was shot in the neck and leg by the wanted subject; he was transported to the Hilo Medical Center where he succumbed to his wounds shortly after midnight on July 18. Officer Kaliloa served with Hawai’i County Police Department for 10 years. He is survived by his wife and three young children.

First, let me begin this post by saying how incredibly devastating the death of a law enforcement officer is—To serve and protect citizens, the whole community, and to be killed because of it. And no, I’m not putting law enforcement on a pedestal, but it’s a simple fact: They serve and protect the community as much as any human tasked with that great responsibility is able to, regardless of who “hates” them or how dangerous the subject/situation is; they do it every single day. I work in law enforcement. My father is career law enforcement. I work with law enforcement professionals from all agencies. The job does require dealing with combative subjects and a dangerous environment; it’s part of the job. However, the goal is to go home at the end of the day, and when one of your own is killed by an individual who simply couldn’t abide by the law, it hits hard. It’s difficult. It’s sad. It makes you angry—But you still believe in what you’re representing and you still care. Therefore, you go back out there and do your job. Once again, it’s incredibly devastating the death of a law enforcement officer.

Officer Kaliloa was the first Big Island police officer to be murdered while making a traffic stop—This has never happened here. When I worked as a PIO/News Reporter for a non-profit organization back in 2016, I covered over a hundred law enforcement deaths, but it was never this close to home.

Yesterday Officer Kaliloa was laid to rest. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend his funeral. However, I was able to watch it live from Nā Leo TV and Hawaii News Now. The show of support from the general public and the amount of law enforcement from all over the United States, not just Hawaii’s agencies, that paid their respects to Officer Kaliloa was absolutely heartwarming—It was amazing to see. Law enforcement all the way from New York came to Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. Citizens lined the streets as the funeral procession drove by. The flags were ordered to fly at half-staff. Thousands of people came to give a proper send-off to an individual who served his community and served it well.

I can’t begin to imagine what Officer Kaliloa’s wife, children, and department have been going through. From what I’ve heard from those who served with him, and from what is already evident, he was the type of person that not only cared about his job/role as a police officer, but he also cared about others.

Officer Kaliloa, you were an incredible human being. You will be sorely missed.

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It’s a pretty day here in Hawaii. Literally the sky is that bright blue with only a few scattered clouds, the sun is shining bright, and the palm trees are swaying back and forth lost in their own paradise. I’m sure you’d get lost in it too. It’s one of those days where you look out of your window or you take a second glance when walking, and you’re thankful to be alive.

I’m sure 3,698 miles away it’s a different story. A much sadder story.

Today in Dallas the funerals were held for Officer Brent Thompson, Sgt. Michael Smith, and Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens. Unfortunately, I was unable to be in attendance, however I was able to watch parts of the funeral live through a feed set up by one of the officers who I volunteer with (he was able to attend the funerals in person).

It’s hard to think about how beautiful of a day it is when wives, children, parents, friends, and fellow officers have suffered an incredible loss. It’s always hardest when the world looks so beautiful and sunny and bright, and yet thousands of miles away families and friends are trying to make it through the day. It’s a sickening feeling knowing these officers are gone and an even more sickening feeling knowing that some people don’t even care.

Almost a week ago this nation suffered a blow. Five police officers killed in the line of duty. It was horrifying watching the events unfold. It was saddening. And it made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t even know what was going on at first, just that there was a shooting in Dallas. I saw it first as one of the trending topics on Facebook and then when I was in the SITROOM (Situation Room) we got word that three LODD’s (Line of Duty Deaths) had just occurred. I immediately got to work on reporting the unfolding events, as we continued to receive confirmation that more officers were expected to not survive their gunshot wounds. When the count reached five, I couldn’t believe it. My heart was absolutely broken. It still is for them. For Dallas. For the families of these brave men. For the Dallas Police Department and for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. For Chief David Brown.

It’s taken me almost a week to write a blog post about losing our brothers in blue, most likely because all I’ve been reporting on and writing news articles about is the shooting and the after-effects of what has happened since July 7th. It’s been difficult for me to put into words something that clearly shows the impact of what a difference these officers have made and how this is a loss that will always remain. My words will never do them justice. However, I’ll leave you with these parting thoughts.

Officer Brent Thompson, Sgt. Michael Smith, Sr. Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Officer Patricio Zamarripa, and Officer Michael Krol—they will never be forgotten. The thin blue line will hold and remain strong. I personally know law enforcement officers from all over the country that made it to Dallas for the funerals; we stand together. This horrific event will not change the fact that every single day, at all hours, men and women will continue to put on their uniform and their duty belt, wear their badge proudly, and step out of the front door into a world that can be so very cruel at times to protect people from all walks of life. To uphold the law. To do what they can for people they don’t even know.

Although there is so much tragedy in this world, so much heartbreak, I still believe that this world is good.

I stand with my brothers and sisters in blue.

AM NIKKI KAY Signature