Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
PEARL CITY — More than 20 years ago, a young cadet finished his deputy training at the Sheriff’s Academy, here, and entered into the ranks of law enforcement officers.
Alongside him at graduation were two service members, a Marine from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, and an Airman from Hickam Air Force Base.
Together, their bond helped apprehend numerous suspects and build a strong partnership between the Sheriff’s Department and the military police community on island.
The Marine and Airman moved on in their military careers, and the training program between the military and the Sheriff’s Dept. ended.
Twenty years later, that young deputy is now Hawaii State Sheriff Shawn Tsuha. His first goal since becoming sheriff in March was to bring back the military connection that defined his career early on.
“We want to re-establish a liaison with the different military police groups in Hawaii for two reasons,” Tsuha said. “First, less than 1-percent wear the uniform, and it would be a great idea to get that cross pollination of ideas and experiences when it comes to law enforcement.
“Second, that ability to network one-on-one on the island is vital as they’re such a big part of the community,” Tsuha added.
The military police at Schofield Barracks agreed.
Eager, wearing her military uniform, Staff Sgt. Stefeni Rowland, 558th MP Company, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, sat down in a classroom that hadn’t seen a service member since 1991.
“I was excited,” Rowland said. “I’ve mostly done the combat side of my job, so to be able to do six months of law enforcement training would be a unique experience.”
For Kaea Sugata, a deputy cadet from Kona, Hawaii, his first day was as much as an eye opener as Rowland’s was.
“The first day I saw someone sitting in their military outfit, I was thinking, did she forget her uniform? Does she know where she’s at?” Sugata said. “Then, we found out what the program was all about.”
“We used to always have that contact,” Tsuha said. “I could say, ‘Hey Bill, it’s Shawn. We need help getting this guy,’ and they would go directly to their chain of command and get the ball moving.”
Just halfway through training Rowland has already become “one of the guys.”
“They’ve taken me in,” Rowland said. “We’re all one, and I’m like their sister now.”
Learning information from communicable diseases to hand-to-hand combat and defensive techniques, Rowland and her classmates know there’s something special happening in this class.
“To share sweat, tears and bruises helps build perspectives. It’s opened relationships,” Sugata said. “We know each other better now.”
While Rowland won’t receive a badge, she’s taken back a new set of skills, and she’s ready to teach her Soldiers what she learned. More importantly, her family on Hawaii has grown tenfold.
“This is what the MPs are about,” Tsuha said. “This is what the sheriffs are about. Blue or green, we all bleed red.”
Rowland and her fellow cadets will graduate in August.