No one knows better the danger that a tense circumstance can present than police in the United States. Constantly under pressure to control people who are guaranteed rights that provide them a wide latitude of no control, the scenarios that citizens can present range from the mundane to sheer terror, even for a trained professional. With that thought, we continue to reflect on moments in the history of law enforcement we wish we could get back, the sacrifices of those that have paid the ultimate price on our behalf.
Most people in the US think of Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and even Florida as their “tropical” getaways in country. But far too many forget about American Samoa. It’s pretty sad that it gets forgotten. So many people are looking for a vacation to a place that is relatively “untouched” by American commercialism. American Samoa has some touches, but remains very grounded in its cultural roots. It provided safe harbor to troops in World War II, who ultimately influenced the young Samoan men with patriotism. American Samoans have a strong interest in American football and baseball, for example. But, in a traditional sense, fishing and “Ava” celebrations are still widely conducted. American Samoa is too beautiful to even try and describe here. We highly recommend you find the time to research it yourself, and then plan your escape from the rat race here.
Police Officer I Sa Fuimaono
Police Officer I Sa Fuimaono was a two-year veteran of the American Samoa Department of Public Safety, when on June 3rd, 1998 he and another officer responded to a disturbance involving two juveniles. The back-up officer stayed with the second party of the disturbance, which was occurring on a beach in Fagatogo. The second party stated that the other juvenile had swam into the ocean to attempt suicide. Officer Fuimaono removed his patrol gear and boots, entered the Pacific Ocean, and swam out to find the juvenile. We could not confirm how long Officer Fuimaono was in the ocean, but he did find the juvenile in the waves, took control of the juvenile, and brought him back to within walking distance in the water, ensuring the juvenile made it out of the ocean alive.
However, likely due to exhaustion from searching, struggling, and then physically carrying while swimming another person, Officer Fuimaono ultimately drowned while recovering the juvenile. He was 31-years old.
One of the things that bothers us about Officer Fuimaono’s story is that it does not have a lot of available resources. In fact, we found that all officers who have died in the line of duty in American Samoa do not have any resources outside of the Officer Down Memorial Page, and National Law Enforcement Memorial websites. These are important, there can be no doubt. But these officers deserve to be remembered loudly and proudly. We hope to contribute to expanding the story of Officer Fuimaono, and ensuring that more people remember him, especially outside of American Samoa.
In memory of Police Officer I Sa Fuimaono.