Park City officer becomes high chief in ancestral Samoan homeland
Vaifoa Lealaitafea’s father and grandfather also held position in the village
November 25, 2016
Vaifoa Lealaitafea goes by the title sergeant when he is in Park City.
In his ancestral homeland of Samoa, he would be called high chief.
Lealaitafea, a Park City Police Department officer who has ascended to the rank of sergeant, recently was bestowed with the title of high chief in Sala'ilua, a village on the Samoan island of Savai'i. His father and paternal grandfather are from the village. His father is a chief in the village and his late grandfather held the title as well.
Lealaitafea has never lived there. Lealaitafea attended a ceremony in September as he was made a high chief. He said the title allows him to have a role in village decisions and he is obligated to assist people in need there. If he ever lived in the village, he would have a large role, he said.
Lealaitafea, who is 37 years old and born in Utah, said he is unsure whether he will move there once he retires from law enforcement. He said he did not anticipate receiving a title of high chief until he was older.
"For me, it's high up there," he said about the title he received in the village.
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He compared his position as a police officer with the role of a high chief, saying he helps people in both cases.
Lealaitafea has been a member of the Police Department since 2004, starting in the reserve corps and becoming a full-time officer the next year. He lives in the Salt Lake Valley.