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Capt. Daniel J. Burton, left, and Yasufumi Tomari pose for a photo with their letters of appreciation at the Okinawa Police Department Feb. 22. Burton is the operations officer with the Provost Marshal's Office. Tomari is an interpreter for the accident investigation section of PMO.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton

Okinawa police recognize hard work of Marines, translator

28 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton Marine Corps Installations Pacific

“We would like to express that your consistent cooperation and deep consideration have produced significant contributions to police service in 2012,” said Tatsuhiko Toguchi, the senior superintendent and chief of the Okinawa Police Department, before presenting Capt. Daniel J. Burton a letter of appreciation.

Yasufumi Tomari, Burton and three other Marines with the Provost Marshal’s Office, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, were each awarded LOAs Feb. 22 at the Okinawa Police Department in Okinawa City.

“It is a great honor to be recognized and awarded,” said Burton, the operations officer with PMO. “The fact that the Japanese are recognizing American service members for contributing to the safety and well-being of the Japanese community is, in my mind, an awesome privilege.”

Burton was not the only recipient to feel honored after the ceremony.

“It is my great pleasure to have received this award,” said Tomari, an interpreter with accident investigation section, PMO. “To me, it is a result of all the hard work, dedication and the opportunity to be with PMO and accident investigation for almost 29 years. This is my last year working for PMO, as I will retire at the end of the year. This is really an honor.”

This is not the first time Marines have been recognized for their achievements by the Okinawa Police Department, according to Maj. Mark Burrell, the deputy provost marshal for PMO. The ongoing partnership of the two agencies is key for both to operate effectively and efficiently.

“They are police officers just like we are and are passionate about reducing accidents and increasing safety,” said Burton. “It is easy to have open lines of communication and talk with one another about what we can do to increase safety, share thoughts and ideas, and improve the safety of both local residents and status of forces agreement members.”

The two police forces combine efforts to decrease the number of traffic collisions and improve driver safety and awareness, according to Burton.

“My Marines work with the Okinawa police anytime there is a traffic collision or incident that happens off base,” said Burton. “I have met with them on numerous occasions to discuss how we could help one another and further solidify our great relationship.”

Throughout the past year, Burton met with the Okinawa Police Department on numerous occasions to discuss ways to improve driver safety and awareness initiatives to reduce the number of traffic collisions.

“These initiatives have had a positive impact in reducing the number of traffic incidents in town involving SOFA vehicle operators,” said Burton.

Not only do the police officers cooperate in traffic enforcement, but they also assist with investigations, according to Burrell.

“We do a lot of training together,” said Burrell. “Our criminal investigative division and the OPD cooperate with one another on cases.”

The members of both law enforcement divisions will continue to work together to achieve their overall goal — the safety of those living on Okinawa.

“PMO and the OPD’s relationship is important because of the fact that we both have the same motive to work together as a team in making fair judgment that affects the outcome of each investigation,” said Tomari. “Our job as interpreters and (police) give us the opportunity to build bridges between two nations and maintain a good relationship and alliance.”