Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

Thursday, June 23, 2005

HPD should monkey
with recruit ideas

Years ago I questioned, in this space, why horses and dogs are the only animals allowed to joined police departments. It's clearly creature discrimination.

I suggested Honolulu police should think outside the litter box and consider using other animals -- like cats, pigs and cows -- for law enforcement. But did anyone listen? When was the last time you saw a police pig tracking an escaped prisoner?

Never. For some reason, dogs and horses have more pull with police departments than other animals. And what can they do? Dogs can sniff out stuff like drugs and explosives. But pigs are just as smart. And with their highly refined snouts, they can detect not only drugs and explosives but also truffles. How cool is that?

Horses are only good for carrying police officers through crowded streets. But police cows could carry officers on their backs, provide milk and, eventually, burgers for the annual HPD Picnic.

The Mesa, Ariz., Police Department is ahead of the curve in putting animals on the police force. A member of the Mesa police SWAT team is requesting a $100,000 federal grant to buy a law-enforcement monkey. No kidding. This SWAT guy isn't just thinking out of the box, he's thinking outside the zoo cage.

NOW YOU MAY be wondering what will a monkey in a police uniform, other than providing comic relief, bring to the department?

Mesa officer Sean Truelove said in a recent news reports that a police monkey could unlock doors, search buildings and, dressed in a Kevlar vest and armed with a video camera and two-way radio, would be able to get into places police robots can't go.

This is the kind of forward thinking Honolulu police need to do. And there are all kinds of monkeys at the Honolulu Zoo who probably would be happy to join the thin blue line.

You think pepper spray is great for crowd control? Think how fast a rowdy crowd would disperse with several police monkeys racing at them throwing feces.

And what about our own Rusti, the disgruntled orangutan who is still waiting for bigger home? He could be useful to the police. Say you have a stand-off situation, a guy's been up on crystal meth for three days, holding police at bay. When the suspect sees an angry 300-pound orangutan in SWAT gear approaching him with a wooden baton in one hand and a Miranda rights card in the other, he's going to surrender pronto.

But HPD hasn't gotten the message. HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu said: "We don't have plans to get a monkey at this time. Or any primates." (I suspect she meant any primates "other than humans," not primates in general.)

HPD likely will come around when it sees how well Mesa's Monkey Squad works out. And once our police realize that horses, dogs and monkeys are good for police work, they should consider other animals, like a sneaky mongoose that would be fantastic for undercover drug investigations, and the great Hawaiian cockroach, who, with a tiny transmitting microphone attached to his back could "bug" secret meetings of crime figures.

Employing a variety of animals in the war on crime not only will make the islands safer, but make HPD parades a lot more fun to watch.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com and cmemminger@hawaii.rr.com

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

E-mail to Features Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com