Monday, August 23, 1999

Photos by Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Officer Eddie Croom shows a 1904 logbook found
recently. Some interesting crimes: "Supposed Insane"
and "Gross Cheat."

Honolulu arrests
were ‘cheap’
back in 1904

Sheriffs could jail you
for being 'supposed insane'
or for being a 'gross cheat'

By Jaymes K. Song


If you ever drank beer on Sunday, were "supposed insane" or were a "gross cheat," you would have been sent to jail in 1904.

Those are among the thousands of arrests Honolulu "sheriffs" made that year, according to an arrest book recently discovered in the state Archives.

Other offenses include "highway robbery, peddling fish, straggling, deserter, violating the Sabbath and disturbing the quiet of night."

"Imagine what we could do today," said officer Eddie Croom, the Honolulu Police Department's museum curator. "It would be nice and peaceful, but the jails would be definitely crowded."

The book, about 2 feet tall and wide, 300 pages thick, bound by a rotting wooden cover, was given to the HPD museum this month. It is the oldest arrest record the department owns. The next oldest book was dated 1927.

Some recorded offenses also listed the bail. For $25 you could get bailed out for assault and battery; $10 for gambling; $6 for drunkenness, $5 for "supposed insane." For murder, you were just "sent to jail."

A lot less information was recorded then. No age, address, identifying number or arrest location were needed. Neither were fingerprints or mug shots.

Croom described the time as "very straightforward, with no rules and regulations and no reports to write."

Photos by Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Famed isle detective Chang Apana made many arrests,
and ethnicity was always noted.

In some entries, there wasn't even a name.

On July 23, 1904, a man was arrested for being "supposed insane." His name was listed as "an insane Japanese from South Hilo." His disposition: "sent to an asylum."

"People didn't carry ID cards," Croom said. "They would say, 'My name is John,' and they would say, 'OK, John.' "

"No drivers license, no ID card. The immigrants might have passports, but it was nothing like today."

One thing that was always listed next to each arrest was nationality. Some of the ethnicities were Chinese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, German, English, Colored, Irish, Puerto Rican, and "American."

"There were a cross-section of law breakers here," Croom said. "Interesting to see 'American' was a foreigner here."

The book may not be the most eye-catching, but it is one of Croom's favorites for its history.

The book also confirms the casework of HPD's most famous officer: Chang Apana.

Officer Apana, whose life was the basis for the character "Charlie Chan," made hundreds of arrests, including 40 men in one day for gambling.

More incredibly, Apana made the arrests without a gun. He is the only authorized officer in HPD history to carry a whip instead of a firearm.

"He didn't like guns," Croom said. "He preferred the whip because he was a paniolo before becoming a police officer. That's what he was familiar with."

According to Croom, Apana specialized in vice-type crimes such as gambling.

The book also shows one suspect, Kuwataro Kuwahara, arrested on Aug. 9, 1904, for assaulting Apana.

That might confirm the stories about Apana getting into fights regardless of his small stature, Croom said. He was stabbed and faced guys who were bigger, but he always seemed to get them in the end.

"There was quite a bit of info we had on Chang Apana," he added. "But we had no documented information he was involved in cases. The arrest log showed cases he worked on."

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