Exclusive: Kalihi Weed and Seed sergeant reflects on career - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Exclusive: Kalihi Weed and Seed sergeant reflects on career

Sgt. John Kauwenaole Sgt. John Kauwenaole

By Minna Sugimoto bio | email

AIEA (KHNL) - The man who has led the Weed and Seed crime-fighting effort in Kalihi since the beginning is calling it quits. Sgt. John Kauwenaole is retiring after more than three decades with the Honolulu Police Department.

With a growing stack of lei around his neck, and a who's who of Hawaii's law enforcement community surrounding him, John Kauwenaole is starting to realize the end is near.

"I'll probably feel the emotion come January 2nd when I got no place to go in the morning at 5 o'clock," he said.

There will be no more early-morning raids for the retiring sergeant.

Working closely with Kalihi's Crime Reduction Unit and concerned residents, Kauwenaole worked tirelessly to clean up drug-ridden neighborhoods.

"Everything they do out there, whether you'd be stealing from a car or burglarizing a house or shoplifting something, they're all getting their money to supply their habit," he said.

Wrapping up a 33-year police career, it's hard to believe he actually wanted to be a teacher.

"I wanted to teach music," he said. "But that didn't work out and HPD was recruiting back in 1975. I took the test and got hired."

But his love for kids was still there. As an officer, he spent a lot of time with children in public housing.

"He would dress up as Santa Claus," Maile Kanemaru, Weed and Seed executive director, said. "He would be there at midnight basketball. He would mentor the kids, taking them fishing."

Kauwenaole says his reward is seeing youngsters avoid crime and succeed.

"One of the boys just graduated from Farrington (High School) and I believe is going to college next year to play football," he said. "So it's kind of heart-warming, yeah."

Kauwenaole isn't leaving the work force entirely. He'll join the new Target store as a senior security officer.

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