By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Officer Craig Hanaumi has a “bucket list” of things he has done in his Bellevue Police Officer uniform as a form of outreach.
Play trombone. Check.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Check.
Shred at a skatepark. Check.
Hanaumi is no “poser,” skateboard lingo referring to someone who cannot skateboard but pretends to. As a part of his outreach to youth, Hanaumi re-kindled an old passion for skateboarding. “I started when I was about 10 years old,” recalled Hanaumi. “From 5th grade to 10th grade, I skateboarded every day.” He was into the counter-culture of skateboarding, as he looked up to the likes of Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, and Lance Mountain.
Hanaumi enjoys the sport of skateboarding because it’s a unique form of self-expression. “It’s a way to do something, be good at something, and express myself without having someone telling you how to do it.”
While Hanaumi downplays his skateboarding skills, the 41-year-old is able to navigate local area skate parks with ease. He credits the local skate community for accepting him with open arms. “They have been super supportive,” says Hanaumi of the regulars at the Bellevue-area skate parks. “Police typically do not have good relationships based on how the contacts happen.” Hanaumi refers to calls from business owners that ask the police to remove skateboarders from trespassing. But his ability to “see things from the other side” sometimes helps ease tension.
Born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii, Hanaumi draws much of his dedication to public service from his parents. His father worked for the U.S. Department of Labor and his mother was a public school teacher.
It’s his mother’s dedication as a teacher that he cites as one of the reasons why he loves working in his community.
Hanaumi graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. After graduation, Hanaumi took on several different jobs, but later applied for the Honolulu Police Department when his cousins applied. He started as a police officer in his late 20s.
In 2006, Hanaumi moved to Washington, where he joined the Bellevue Police Department. A portion of his job with the Bellevue Police Department is outreach to the local community.
He became known as the “Coolest Cop” for his unique brand of communicating with people.
“It’s the closest ‘real’ job to Batman,” Hanaumi quips when he explains it to the youth. “You get to work in a vehicle with cool equipment and fight crime.”
In his 10th year with the Bellevue Police Department, Hanaumi has used his interests to reach out to the community.
Not only is he an avid skateboarder, he plays the trombone at community events. Hanaumi started playing the trombone in middle school. “I played all the way through college.” He also taught trombone to young students.
In addition, Hanaumi has trained in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for eight years. He holds a blue belt in the martial art, which involves ground grappling. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is also used as a form of self-defense and can be taught to groups to protect themselves. Hanaumi has performed demonstrations with his uniform on, with a training partner.
“I try to turn all my hobbies into outreach,” joked Hanaumi.
He explains that the purpose of his form of outreach is to show people that despite the sometimes negative perceptions of police officers, there are many who do good within the community. “There isn’t always an Instagram of an officer doing good stuff,” Hanaumi said. Whether it is buying someone lunch, giving a ride, or some other small gesture, Hanaumi emphasized that officers are always in the community doing good things.
Hanaumi credits the Bellevue Police Department for allowing him to post videos on his Instagram (@craighanaumi) account to show the good that officers are doing within the community. Most of his Instagram posts show him skateboarding, interacting with kids, and helping out in the community.
Although some police departments do not have such a flexible social media policy, Hanaumi believes that it helps create a bond with the community.
You can follow Officer Hanaumi on Instagram @craighanaumi.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.