Tustin’s ‘leaf blower’ officer works hard to keep streets clean


The last title Officer Tupua Ioane expected to earn on his part-time Parking Control job was “the Leaf Blower Guy.”

But the descriptive moniker suits Ioane, who is known for going the extra mile to keep Tustin streets neat and clean.

Citizens noticed that, as he makes his rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, Ioane uses a leaf blower to whisk the pine needles, leaves and debris into the path of the street sweeper. He also breaks down larger branches in advance of the sweep, to make it easier for the sweeper to pick up.

“I like to keep things clean,” Ioane says when asked about his extra efforts in partnership with street-sweeper driver Leo Stiles.

Tustin Police Department Parking Control Officer Tupua Ioane uses a leaf blower to help keep the streets of Tustin clean on street sweeping days.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

First as a volunteer and now as a part-time police department employee, Ioane takes pride both in offering impeccable community service and in maintaining a pristine environment.

“I enjoy driving through Tustin and seeing the streets clean,” explains the 30-year city resident, who with his wife of 43 years, Noelni, has raised four adult sons who attended Tustin Unified schools.

Doing his best work requires Ioane to come to work early in order to properly prepare the streets for sweeping. He blows sections where debris tends to accumulate and, after the sweep, he goes over the areas once more to ensure they didn’t miss anything.

“When we leave, the streets are nice and tidy,” he notes proudly. In comparison, he adds, “when I drive around other communities, I see trash everywhere.”

Tustin Parking Control Officer Tupua Ioane goes the extra mile by moving trash cans up on the curb before the street sweeper drives past.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Zachary Thompson, 1½ years old, loves to see the street sweeper when it arrives every Wednesday morning on Sandfield Street. His parents, Lee and Shannon, are touched that Ioane waves and smiles at Zachary whenever he sees him, and they noticed his extra efforts in advance of the sweeper.

“It stood out to me that he was doing a little extra,” Shannon said, so she added a positive comment on the police department’s website. “I just said how nice it was that he goes above and beyond to clear the street to make our neighborhood look beautiful.”

Tustin Police Chief Stu Greenberg issued Ioane a commendation when the department saw the Thompsons’ comment about his extra efforts. Lt. Matt Nunley describes him as “a man who deeply cares about his community.”

Parking Control Officer Tupua Ioane holds a leaf blower as street sweeper driver Leo Stiles drives through Tustin.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Ioane recently was transferred to the department’s fleet division, where he will help keep squad cars neat and ready to roll. He welcomes the new challenge.

“I try to live by what the Bible says about kindness and loving your neighbor,”. “We’re to be nice to each other, no matter what.”

For Ioane, that means going above and beyond expectations to keep Tustin city streets as tidy as possible. At each week’s sweep, he notes, he and Leo “do the best job we can.”

In response, the Thompsons say, “We are very impressed with him.

Parking Control Officer Tupua Ioane picks up a few twigs that the street sweeper might have problems collecting.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Street Sweeper Driver Leo Stiles, left, with Tustin Parking Control Officer Tupua Ioane.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge