HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With all the memorials and places of honor in the state, you may be surprised to hear that there is no memorial for Hawaii's fallen law enforcement officers.
60 law enforcement officers in Hawaii have been killed in the line of duty - that includes officers from the Honolulu police department, neighbor island police departments, state and federal agencies, plus military police. Until now, there's been nowhere for people to go to pay tribute. Tiffany Johnson and her mother Joan Gribbin-Aiu are hoping to change that soon.
Tiffany visits her father's grave in Kaneohe every other week and lays a single yellow rose in his memory. He's never really far away when she wears his police medallion. "This year makes 15 years since he passed away," says a tearful Tiffany, "and I thought, finally, I'd made my peace with it, but you can't make your peace with it."
In July, 1995, Tiffany's father, Honolulu police officer Bryant Bayne and officer Tate Kahakai were killed while on-duty trying to save a missing hiker at Sacred Falls. Their rescue helicopter crashed. The pilot also died.
Tiffany was only seven years old when it happened. Over the years, she and her mother have flown to the National Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, DC, to honor officer Bayne but have often wondered why there isn't a memorial closer to home.
The police museum at HPD headquarters has a special section that pays tribute to fallen heroes, but right now, there's no memorial for all of the state's fallen law enforcement officers.
So, Tiffany and Gribbin-Aiu decided to take matters into their own hands and launched the Hawaii Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, HLEMF, to get one built.
HLEMF Executive Director Gribbin-Aiu says, "I was surprised that there was nothing for any of the agencies - not just the police department - and that's when we decided, if we're going to do this memorial, it is going to include everyone."
The tribute will include fallen heroes from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. "When we see these things happen, and we lose someone in the line of duty, we're reminded again of just how difficult, how challenging, and certainly how dangerous the job can be," says HPD Lt. Randy Luna.
Plans call for the memorial to be built on the state capitol grounds - in a quiet corner where officers like Bryant Bayne can always be remembered. University of Hawaii architecture students are submitting design proposals and the winning plan will be selected at a gala benefit for the HLEMF. To vote for the winning design, you must attend the gala dinner, and tickets for the event can be purchased now.
For more information on the Hawaii Fallen Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, click HERE.