The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaii honors the 2019 - Police Officer of the Year Christopher Jelsma and Firefighter of the Year Battalion Fire Chief William Bergin.
Hawaiʻi Police Department Office of the Chief Chief Paul Ferreira Phone;: (808) 961-2244 The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi recognized South Hilo Patrol Officer Christopher Jelsma as the “Police Officer of the Year – 2019”. During a dinner ceremony Monday evening (March 16, 2020) the honoree received a plaque from the Aloha Exchange Club, a gift basket of donated items from local business, and certificates of commendation from the mayor’s office, the governor’s office, the state Legislature, and the Hawaiʻi County Council.
Officer Jelsma, who joined the Police Department in 2012, is a 7-year veteran officer, previously spending 8-years in the U.S Air Force as a member of the Military Police Security Forces. He also currently serves as a Field Training Officer mentoring newly graduated Recruit officers and is a firearm instructor.
His selection for this prestigious award was based on his commitment to keeping the community safe by his relentless, proactive actions in locating wanted persons, keeping dangerous drugs and firearms off the street, and teamwork. During the one month of (October 2019), Officer Jelsma generated 20 arrests resulting in 50 criminal cases.
In the nomination submitted by Lieutenant Fetu Amuimuia several of the notable cases were highlighted, all of which involved motor vehicles and the suspects operating or occupying them. These traffic contacts resulted in the recovery of illegal firearms, ammunition, crystal methamphetamine, stolen vehicles, and multiple fugitives sought on warrants.
One case involved a motor vehicle pursuit whereby Officer Jelsma elected to disengage due to the hazardous driving actions of the suspect, however undeterred, he diligently continued the investigation yielding the later location and arrest of the responsible driver.
During the Monday ceremony, Officer Jelsma credited fellow officers on his watch with keeping him safe and allowing his proactivity to continue. He emphasized it was a “team effort” rather than an individual one.
Officer Jelsma has been previously recognized on three occasions as the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi’s “Officer of the Month,” honored with the title for (February 2016, February 2018, and October 2019).
Hawaii Fire Department’s Battalion Chief William Bergin was named as the “Fire Fighter of the Year – 2019” with a separate recognition ceremony honoring him to follow at a later date.
The “Officer of the Year” and “Fire Fighter of the Year” awards are projects of the Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaiʻi.