Pat Morin, who lived in Honolulu for six years and visits the islands frequently, will be writing an ongoing series of articles about Hawaii, culture, police, and their own mysteries for this web site. This is the first installment: The Birth of the Honolulu, Hawaii Police Department.
Around 1819, King Kamehameha II (Ka-may-a-may-a) abolished the Kapu system, removing the authority of the chiefs as living gods. The Kapu system had also prohibited women from eating in the same house as the men. When Queen Kaahumanu and Kamehameha II ate together in public, they ended many cultural rituals and, more importantly, ended the absolute power of the King and the chiefs. King Kamehameha II offered Hawaii as a gift to England, but it was refused. In 1820, the first group of missionaries arrived, headed by Rev. Hiram Bingham. Measles killed both Queen Kaahumanu and King Kamehameha II in England in 1824.
King Kamehameha III enacted Hawaii's first civil laws on December 8th, 1827. In 1846, the chief offenses faced by the constabulary in multi-ethnic Hawaii were public drunkenness and the reckless riding of horses.
In 1898, the Monarchy was overthrown, and in 1900, the "Organic Act" allowed most Hawaiians to become United States citizens. The expansion of Honolulu's imports and exports led to an increase in the population of seamen, military personnel, and businessmen, spawning gambling, prostitution, drugs (mainly opium), and disorderly conduct. In 1898, the sheriff's office was the city's entire police force. Technically, its men were constables, but they acted as police officers.
Honolulu 1900—during a fire
After the first police station burned down, a second one was built between Merchant Street and Bethel Street (the same one used for the Charlie Chan mysteries).
Charlie Chan's office was on the first floor in 1925.
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