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Officer Keola Kopa, Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii

2017 State and Local Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Recipient

On July 14, 2017, District 7 Second Watch officers responded to a seven-alarm fire call at the Marco Polo Apartments in the East Honolulu area. Upon arrival, they observed flames and thick black smoke that had fully engulfed an apartment on the 26th floor and had spread to adjacent units. Residents standing outside informed the Honolulu Police Department officers that there were family members trapped inside the building who needed assistance in evacuating because they were elderly and disabled. The officers also heard cries for help from inside the building and immediately created a perimeter and entered the building to begin evacuating the residents.

Officer Keola Kopa, assigned to the Second Watch, was one of the first officers on the scene and proceeded to find an entry point into the building. As he entered the building, large chunks of cement, glass, and metal fell from the apartments above. He needed to take cover twice to avoid the falling debris. Despite this, Officer Kopa and Corporal Scott Nielson ran up into the stairwell to begin evacuating residents. The officers went door to door calling out to residents and pounding on doors to ensure that the apartments were empty.

In one apartment, Officer Kopa found an elderly female and carried her down the stairwell from the sixth floor to safety. He re-entered the building and met a couple in their sixties on the eighth floor who pleaded with him to carry their two-year-old granddaughter because they were unable to carry her. Officer Kopa carried the child and escorted the grandparents down the stairwell to safety.

Later, Officer Kopa, now exhausted from numerous trips into the fire, was alerted that an elderly male, who was hearing-impaired, was still in his unit on the 20th floor. Officer Kopa and Corporal Michael Low entered the unit, woke up the elderly male, assisted him to get dressed, and carried him down 20 flights of stairs.

Officer Kopa repeatedly searched apartments and assisted many residents from several levels of the building by carrying or walking them to safety. His continued acts of bravery, long after others were too tired to go on, set him apart as special. At one point, the heat and smoke were so intense that it made breathing difficult and he was forced to retreat since he had no external air supply.

Officer Kopa put the lives of the people he served ahead of his own. He went above and beyond the call of duty by entering and re-entering the building, each time bringing an individual to safety. Through his acts of bravery and sincere dedication to the community, he showed what it means to serve and protect.

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