Officer was on track to HPD leadership positions
By Rob Shikina / email@example.com
Neville Colburn, a 22-year Honolulu Police Department veteran and rising police leader, died on Feb. 23. He was 43.
Colburn, an HPD captain, collapsed while running on a track at the police training academy in Waipahu. He was taken to the Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu where he died, his family said.
Brian Colburn, of Connecticut, said his younger brother had a cardiac event and the cause was still pending.
He last saw his brother in December when he graduated from the FBI National Academy in Virginia. At the time, he said, his brother was ecstatic about graduating and returning to his three daughters, ages 7, 12 and 13.
“For him, that was the major drawback because he was talking to them multiple times a day, everyday,” Brian Colburn said.
HPD Assistant Chief Alan Bluemke, who was Colburn’s former supervisor in HPD’s Professional Standards Office, said Colburn’s death is a “great loss for the department and the community.”
“He had the best interests of the community at heart and the interests of the department at heart,” Bluemke said. “He represented the department well.”
In November, Colburn was promoted to HPD captain and appointed executive officer of the department’s training academy.
“He was on the rise in his career,” said Colburn’s friend, Honolulu police Lt. Phillip Johnson. “He would have been an assistant chief in the next few years. I have no doubt.”
Johnson said Colburn was being groomed through his assignments for future leadership roles. He added that Colburn was one of only about two HPD officers sent annually to the FBI’s National Academy for professional development.
“He was definitely upward-bound,” he said. “He put his whole life into being a good officer and into all the things he needed to get promoted and be a leader in the department.”
Johnson said in the two decades he had known Colburn, he was passionate about whatever he did — from setting a good example for young recruits at the academy to maintaining his fitness and appearance. He said Colburn could finish a mile in less than 6 minutes.
Colburn was born in Panama, where his father, who retired as an Army major, was stationed. His father was the first person the late Sen. Daniel Inouye sponsored as a candidate to West Point, Brian Colburn said.
Neville Colburn grew up in the Pacific Northwest, but spent summers in Hawaii. After graduating from high school in Oregon, he moved to Oahu and joined the police department in 1992.
Becoming an officer “gave him a tremendous sense of direction,” his older brother said. “It definitely got him on a path that he thrived on.”
Colburn worked as a bicycle officer in Waikiki, a patrol officer in East Oahu, a detective in the Professional Standards Office — which investigates officer misconduct, and a lieutenant in PSO.
In 2013, he received an MBA from Chaminade University, where he maintained a 4.0 GPA.
Johnson said Colburn had a big sense of humor despite appearing serious to those who didn’t know him — partly because of his role in the PSO, where Johnson and Colburn worked together.
Assistant Chief Bluemke said Colburn excelled in the PSO — typically a stressful assignment because officers are investigating fellow officers — and remained fair in investigations.
“It’s not for everybody,” Bluemke said. “He knew that. But he was willing to take on that task, and he did it properly.”
Besides his brother, Colburn is survived by his daughters Megan, Amanda and Rebecca; and his mother, Christine, of Oregon.
A memorial service and pass in review will be held Friday at Borthwick Mortuary. Visitation is at 9 a.m. with service from 11 a.m.
A fund for Colburn’s daughters has been set up at gofundme.com/n3t108.