(BIVN) – The 2022 Officer of the Year and the 2022 Firefighter of the Year were recognized by the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi during a ceremony on Saturday, March 25, in Hilo.
The Officer of the Year was awarded to Puna Patrol Officer Michael Sailer, and Firefighter of the Year went to Hawai‘i Fire Department Fire Captain Jon Wayne Boteilho.
The actions of Officer Sailer were described in a Hawai‘i Police news release:
Officer Sailer was recognized for his exceptional investigative police work and lifesaving efforts during an incident involving the kidnapping and torture of a male victim in Volcano. A five-year veteran of the department, Officer Sailer responded to a report of a dispute at a residence in Volcano on Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Upon arrival, Officer Sailer was told only that a dropped 9-1-1 call from a cell phone had been received from the remote rural area. Despite having little to no information to guide him, Officer Sailer spent a good deal of time searching the area for any signs of foul play. After several minutes, he faintly heard a man cry out for help one time; then it became quiet. Officer Sailer then located a residence in the area and for several minutes Officer Sailer called out “police”, but no one responded.
At the front door, Officer Sailer saw what appeared to be a small amount of blood on the door. When a male teen finally opened the front door, Officer Sailer noticed that the teen was wearing gloves and could hear a man yelling for help from within the home.
Asking the teen to step outside, Officer Sailer entered the front room and discovered a man lying on the floor handcuffed with his feet zip-tied and a second man kneeling on top of the victim. In addition to having his hands and feet restrained, the victim had a rag partially stuffed in his mouth and duct taped.
After securing the residence, Officer Sailer found tactical gear, an assault rifle, a pistol, ammunition, and evidence of a kidnapping and assault that had taken place in the home. In the course of investigation, Officer Sailer discovered that the victim had been held against his will within the residence and assaulted. It appeared that the two males in the residence may have intended on killing the victim and covering up the incident.
The teen and male adult suspect were eventually charged with a variety of crimes, including kidnapping and assault.
ABOVE: photo of Puna Patrol Officer Michael Sailer with Hawai‘i Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz, courtesy Hawaiʻi Island Police
“Officer Sailer’s dedication to duty and willingness to conduct a thorough search of the area led to him finding the residence, and ultimately the victim in this case,” Hawai‘i Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz said. “ His actions literally saved the life of the male victim, who would otherwise have been killed. I am extremely proud of Officer Sailer and the hard work he put in to solve this case.”
The same police news release detailed the Firefighter of the Year award, as well:
Hawai‘i Fire Department Captain Boteilho was honored as Firefighter of the Year for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty maintaining the department’s mechanical equipment and Respiratory Management Program. An 18-year veteran of the department, Captain Boteilho has spent most of his career at the Pāhoa fire station, one of the busiest on island, with a response area the size of Oahu. He uses his extensive mechanical skills to meticulously maintain the apparatus and equipment at the Pāhoa station while sharing his skills with his crew. By handling routine repairs in-house, he saves the department time and money while ensuring the station’s apparatus are at the ready for the numerous calls they receive.
In addition to his Captain duties, he also runs the department’s Respiratory Management Program. Affectionately nicknamed “Airheads”, members of this program are responsible for fit-testing the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and N95 masks, as well as updating, maintaining, and testing the SCBA packs. It’s a tedious and detailed process to check this equipment, yet is absolutely critical in protecting firefighters and ensuring they receive quality oxygen in high-stress situations.
Captain Boteilho has stepped up to learn all aspects of the Respiratory Management Program, from inventory management, to equipment calibrations, product ordering, scheduling, and more. Because the department needs to conduct fit testing annually, he travels around the island to all the stations to ensure personnel have properly maintained gear. All of these efforts are in addition to his regular duties as Captain. He’s been seen working on SCBA packs between calls while on duty, because in his words, “It will save the department money on overtime.”
Fire Captain Jon Wayne Boteilho with Hawai‘i Fire Department Deputy Chief Eric Moller (courtesy Hawaiʻi Island Police)
“The selfless service and true humility displayed by Captain Boteilho is what every firefighter aspires to be,” said deputy Fire Chief Eric Moller. “His work ethic and dedication to doing what is right is what makes him perfect for this award.”
Every month the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i honors a police officer in East Hawaii as their officer of the month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors from the police districts in Area I, including Hāmākua, North Hilo, South Hilo, and Puna, and a winner is selected.
All officers selected for Officer of the Month are eligible to be selected as the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawai‘i Officer of the Year. The club previously honored Officer Sailer as Officer of the month for June 2022. The Firefighter of the Year nominee is submitted to the Club by the fire chief.