Charlie Chan,
candy canes
and HPD

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Officer Eddie Croom, HPD museum curator, shows the whip used by Chang Apana. The HPD museum is open Monday through Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

From the real Chan to red and white squad cars,
a police museum houses pieces of history

By Jaymes Song

Alyson Fuller knew she would see old guns and uniforms during her field trip to the Honolulu Police Department's museum.

What she didn't expect to see were pictures and artifacts from a detective she remembers from television.

"I was raised watching his movies, and I always thought Charlie Chan was a mainland guy," said Fuller, a student at Commonwealth International Senior College, the former Denver Business College. "I didn't know he was originally from here."

Chan, whose real name is Chang Apana, was a real detective for the police department. Apana was the only officer ever certified to carry a whip instead of a pistol.

The Police Museum exhibit features the actual whip and a photograph of Apana with Warner Oland, an actor who portrayed him in movies.

"Wow," Fuller said after hearing the Apana story. "I guess the whip was more powerful than the bullet."

According to museum officials, the Apana exhibit is their most popular. Officer Eddie Croom, museum curator, said he fields calls and e-mail from around the world, inquiring about the real-life Chan.

And there's more

In addition to the Apana exhibit, hundreds of seized weapons, gambling devices and pieces of drug paraphernalia are on display at the museum, tucked away on the first floor of the department's headquarters.

Photo from HPD Web site
A candy-cane color HPD car - red and white - from earlier days

Officer Stan Cook can't help but chuckle while describing the candy cane-color patrol cars the department used to have.

"They were red and white," Cook told a group of 10 college students who toured the museum last week.

Other exhibits cover the evolution of the department, the police uniform, the motorcycle detail, the SWAT team and women officers. "The HPD is not just one of the most unique departments. It is the most unique," said Croom.

Among the items, stories and factual tidbits found at the museum are:

A picture of police Sgt. Jimmy Wong, who was one of the first Americans to know about the Pearl Harbor attack before the first bomb was dropped.

Wong, who was working dispatch, received several calls from residents about fighter planes with Japanese markings flying over the Waianae Coast.

HPD is the only police force to come under attack by a foreign enemy. Two police cars were attacked during the Pearl Harbor raid.

A look back

On Dec. 15, 1941, George Adams was denied entry into the military, so decided to become a police officer. He applied that morning and walked out with a badge, gun and code book that afternoon.

During martial law in World War II, some penalties and fines were paid for with a pint of blood.

The first recorded death of an officer was in 1891 during a domestic dispute.

The rifle that apparently belonged to Koolau the Leper.

Koolau, a Kauai resident, fought off an attack from outsiders attempting to transport all leprosy patients to Molokai in 1890.

Koolau, who didn't want to leave and give up his land, killed six invaders and wounded one with his rifle, getting wounded himself in the battle. Two years later, his wife found his body still grasping the rifle.

Croom found the weapon in the HPD's possession.

Cook, whose picture is on display for being wounded in the line of duty, said he wants people to know that the museum exists and is open to the public.

"It's exciting," said student Marc Mahelona. "It's a real learning experience."

Said Croom, who started gathering items and researching displays two years ago: "There's a lot of history here.

"It's not just the police department's history - it's the community's and Hawaii's history."

HPD Museum

What: The Honolulu Police Department Museum

Where: 801 S. Beretania St.; the first floor at the police headquarters

When: Open between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Cost: Free

Information: 529-3351.

Restrictions: No group larger than 50 people or under the sixth-grade age level

Internet: Artifacts can be found on the web at

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