The Kona Crime Prevention Committee recognized Officer Branden Watanabe as “Officer of the Month” for February in a luncheon ceremony Feb. 6 at Huggo’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona.
Watanabe, who joined the Police Department two years ago, was honored for his investigative skills and teamwork with fellow officers that led to the quick arrest of two robbery suspects.
On Nov. 26, Watanabe was assigned to a report of a robbery in a parking lot behind Aliʻi Sunset Plaza in Kailua-Kona. A 26-year-old man reported that he had been talking with a group of men when they attacked him. They stole his wallet and backpack and sent him to the hospital with a broken jaw.
At the scene, Officer Watanabe worked as a team with several of his fellow officers. Through investigation, police learned the identity of one of the suspects and issued an all-points bulletin for his arrest.
The next night, Watanabe and his beat partner were assigned to a noise complaint about a large group that had gathered in the Kona Palisades subdivision. Rather than just dispersing the crowd, Officer Watanabe identified all persons present. Because of that, he discovered that one of them was the suspect wanted in the robbery. After that man’s arrest, police learned the identity of a second suspect and arrested him several days later. Both men were charged with robbery.
Sgt. Charles Adams, who nominated Watanabe for the award, noted that Watanabe’s “quick, immediate response” played a key role in the team effort that resulted in the two arrests.
As “Officer of the Month,” Watanabe is eligible to become “Officer of the Year.”