Gardena Police Chief Mike Saffell (at podium) and other city officials paid tribute to Officer Toshio Hirai. (Gardena Police Department)

GARDENA — The Gardena Police Department recognized Officer Toshio Hirai on Nov. 15, the first anniversary of his passing, with the establishment of the Toshio Hirai Scholarship.

Police Chief Mike Saffell, Mayor Tasha Cerda, Mayor Pro Tem Rodney Tanaka and other officials thanked the Gardena Officer Association and the Gardena Police Foundation for their generosity, and the Hirai family expressed their gratitude.

At the age of 34, Hirai, a motorcycle officer, died from injuries suffered in a collision with another vehicle at Western Avenue and 238th Street in Harbor City.

Hirai, who grew up in Gardena and attended Gardena Buddhist Church, joined the Police Department in 2006 and was a traffic investigator and a member of the SWAT team. He left behind his wife and son.

“Today marks the one-year remembrance anniversary of our Gardena Police Officer Toshio Hirai, former Police Chief Thomas Kang said via Facebook. “I have lots of emotions running through my mind with tears, grief, anger, sorrow, and disbelief that Toshio is no longer with us.

“This past year had been emotionally exhausting and there hasn’t gone a week without me thinking and praying for Toshio and his family. I will never forget this unforgettable day of the tragedy and Toshio’s legacy.”

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