Officer Denise Smith-Erickson has earned the statewide distinction of State of Hawaii D.A.R.E. Officer of the Year for 2013.
Smith-Erickson, a 14-year veteran of the Hawaii County Police Department, is a community policing officer in the South Kohala District. Among her responsibilities is Drug Awareness Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) for schoolchildren. Her D.A.R.E. presentations go beyond lecturing to include one-on-one interaction and individual counseling.
Lt. Juergen Canda, who nominated Smith-Erickson for the honor, said her performance as a D.A.R.E. officer has been “resoundingly successful.” He noted that Smith-Erickson expanded D.A.R.E. services in West Hawaii by adding the program to Waikoloa Intermediate School and and by enhancing the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. by speaking to parents to provide support and student counseling.
Smith-Erickson’s past assignments included work on the Vice Section’s Airport Task Force. In nomination papers, Canda said her drug expertise and her “aggressive drug related interdiction” have contributed to the decline in crime in South Kohala.
“Officer Smith-Erickson’s performance has been exemplary, and her professionalism, dedication and genuine care in the service of these programs have increased the effectiveness of D.A.R.E. and relationships with the students and community immeasurably,” Canda wrote. “She is a model officer and her outstanding accomplishments reflect credit upon herself and the Hawaiʻi Police Department.”
The award was announced Feb. 27 at the 2014 State of Hawaii Biennial D.A.R.E. Conference in Honolulu.