The Aloha Exchange Club of East Hawaii recognized Sgt. James Correa on Thursday as the East Hawaii “Officer of the Month” for January. Correa was honored for his leadership role in capturing two escaped inmates.
On Dec. 5, two inmates escaped from Hawaii Community Correctional Center after overpowering and assaulting a correctional officer. In the aftermath of the escape, the Police Department formed two teams, one from each side of the island, to lead an intense manhunt for the escaped prisoners.
Correa was assigned to lead the Area I Task Force in East Hawaii, while Sgt. Bradley Freitas was in charge of the Area II Task Force in West Hawaii. The two teams worked together tracking down all leads. Due to their commitment, one prisoner was arrested in Ka‘u two days after the escape. The second was tracked down a week later in Puna.
Capt. Robert Wagner, who recommended Correa for “Officer of the Month,” said that the task forces worked for long hours to protect the safety of the public and that citizens were grateful for their dedication.
“It can be very stressful to be given the task of apprehending two dangerous escapees, especially when everyone on the island is expecting quick results so their families can return to their normal lifestyle,” Wagner wrote in nomination papers. “There were many officers involved in this manhunt, but the direction, decisions and leadership of both Sergeant Correa and Sergeant Freitas were critical in ensuring both task forces worked together efficiently for their common goal.”
As “Officer of the Month,” Correa is eligible for “Officer of the Year.” The East Hawaii “Officer of the Month” award is a project of the Aloha Exchange Club of Hilo.
The Kona Crime Prevention Committee holds a separate award ceremony for West Hawaii officers on the first Wednesday of every month.