Hawaii County Police Department Kona Patrol Officer Mario Ochoa has been recognized as “Officer of the Month” for March by the Kona Crime Prevention Committee.
Ochoa was honored for his investigation of an automobile theft reported on Jan. 19, according to police. Ochoa responded to a report from a man whose car keys had been stolen from a locker while he was swimming at a public pool. The suspects drove away in the man’s car, taking his wallet and personal belongings.
A few hours later, Ochoa spotted the stolen vehicle and its three occupants in the parking lot of a food mart, and he initiated a traffic stop, according to police. The occupants were allegedly in possession of crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Ochoa’s investigation revealed that the suspects had used the victim’s credit card and had stolen cash and other personal property.
The suspects were arrested and charged with two counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, two counts of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle, two counts of promoting a dangerous drug, two counts of drug paraphernalia, two counts of unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, two counts of theft, theft/forgery of credit cards and promoting a detrimental drug, according to police.
Sergeant Akira Edmoundson, who nominated Ochoa for the honor, described him as someone who “has demonstrated a high level of investigative competence and initiative.” Edmoundson noted that, in addition to this incident, Ochoa investigated 30 incidents, nine traffic accidents and 31 miscellaneous public complaints in January. He also made 23 arrests and issued 73 traffic citations.
“Officer Ochoa is a new officer, recently assigned to Kona Patrol on July 16, 2013,” the sergeant wrote in nomination papers. “He has proved to be an asset to the Hawaii Police Department and the community that he serves.”
The committee honored Ochoa during a ceremony held Wednesday in Kailua-Kona. As “Officer of the Month,” Ochoa is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.”
The Kona Crime Prevention Committee is an organization that encourages community involvement in aiding and supporting police in West Hawaii.