Granddaughter fights to get officer's name on law enforcement... - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Granddaughter fights to get officer's name on law enforcement memorial

Bernadeen Valdez Bernadeen Valdez

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An officer who died in the line of duty 80 years ago will have his name on Hawaii's new law enforcement memorial, thanks to his granddaughter's efforts.

Wearing a lei and beaming with pride, Bernadeen Valdez of California attended the law enforcement memorial groundbreaking, knowing that her beloved grandfather will have a place on the monument.

"I'm sure he's smiling about it," she said. "Certainly, I'm just as thrilled about the attention and the tributes being paid to him."

Those tributes are being paid 80 years after Officer David Kaohi's death. On February 22, 1931, the 58-year-old patrolman was involved in a car crash in Pearl City and died.

Valdez wasn't born yet, but learned about it from a letter her late father had written about the funeral.

"It was a pretty big affair, that there was a motorcade, that there were horses, a full-fledged police funeral," she said.

It all happened when Hawaii was still a territory, one year before the Honolulu Police Department was formally established. That's why for decades, Kaohi was not recognized as one of HPD's fallen officers.

After being contacted by Valdez, the department did some research. Last month, Valdez received a letter from the chief of police, saying that her grandfather was indeed killed in the line of duty and will now be included on HPD's Roll of Honor.

"I was jumping up and down," she said. "It's pretty bad because I've got a bad knee, you know. But still, it didn't stop me from just physically jumping for joy."

It was a successful fight for an officer she never met.

"He always treated the suspects with respect and compassion," Valdez said. "I think that's what made him such a role model for me."

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