Kupuna Life: Sharing the History of Hawaii’s Law Enforcement

Kupuna Life

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The most unassuming of museums, at the entrance to Honolulu police headquarters, opens the door on a breadth of the fascinating history of law enforcement in Hawaii.

“King Kamehameha, his first law was a law about protecting the people, protecting travelers, people that come through his kingdom, the law of the splintered paddle basically said the old the young the weak may lay down beside the road without fear of harm,” said Retired HPD Officer and Museum Manager Eddie Croom.

“You see HP, that’s the first emblem, a symbol of the Honolulu police,” he points out at one point of the tour.

He may sound like a tour guide, but Retired HPD Officer Eddie Croom says he’s not, he is a storyteller.

“Many people didn’t know that Duke was a sheriff, he ran the Honolulu jail, Duke ran the Honolulu jail for almost 20 years.”

“Here is his father and his father was Honolulu police.”

But he does love walking and talking people thru history, especially seniors.

“To me, that’s the best because that’s when I learn the most, from the senior groups,” he said. “When they come through I usually have my pen and pencil on the side and I just walk around and listen, that’s all you have to do is walk around and listen.”

All of this, a 22-year passion project since well before he retired in 2010.

“To be a part of something that’s totally, totally unique, this department is unlike any law enforcement agency in the United States, our beginning is unlike any other law enforcement agency,” Croom said.

Croom came through Hawaii on the way to Vietnam in 1966, and just our fragrant air drew him back, his last six years in the air force at Hickam.

“I learned so much about Hawaii, about the culture about the people and then I joined the police department and as a policeman you’re part of the community you can’t step aside from it, you can’t, I’m a native of Pittsburgh but I live in Hawaii, no, you can’t do that as a policeman you have to be part of the community and I felt part of the community. I’ve always felt part of the community here.”

He joined HPD in 89, started working on the museum in ’97.

“It wasn’t until while working here I read a book by Leon Strauss which was the first documented history of the Honolulu police department and that changed everything for me.”

The book became his blueprint and a teacher influenced a shift.

“The kids were oohing and aaahing and one of the teachers asked me, is this what you want kids to equate law enforcement with, nothing but guns? And I didn’t know how to answer because she was right.”

“The first thing I knew I needed to do was to get rid of the guns. I must have turned in for destruction about 200 guns. I took down the patches.”

“I started to get all kinds of donations things that people had been keeping at home they started to bring in”

His official title is HPD museum manager, not getting paid, but you wouldn’t know it.

“Law enforcement in Hawaii was not alongside history we were a part of it we were a part of everything that went on.”

And at the age of what he’ll tell you is threescore and twelve…72, there’s no end in sight.

“Oh, I love this, I love this until this is complete, I don’t think I’ll ever really be done until it’s complete.”

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