The early 70’s was a tough time to be a cop. Vietnam was teaching young people they could protest, gather in groups, and do almost anything because there weren’t enough cops to arrest everyone.
It wasn’t as bad here as it was on the Mainland, but we had our moments.
It was New Years Eve, of 73’. There was ice and snow in most of North America so Waikiki was packed with mostly young adult males pretending to be part of “the movement” and protests. If drinking lots of booze, chasing young women and smoking pot is a war protest, they had it down.
It had been a fairly busy night already, lots of fights and people running out on their bar/restaurant tabs.
Really one of the most active New Years Eves I could remember.
But I’d only been a cop for 4 years, what did I know.
The problem seemed to be the problems were always at opposite ends from each other. So my partner “Robin” and I were kept hopping. In fact, one time we stopped a city bus had the driver skip a stop so we got to the fight first.
We did hear about that later.
There were no days off during The New year’s Eve. Everyone worked. As it got busier each year, more officers and ideas were put into play. This year it was decided to have a “mobile command” post, complete with booking table and utilizing the paddy wagon as a holding cell. This was located in a small alley behind what was then the Waikiki Liberty House store, one of the biggest in the chain.
The booking table was for minor things like drinking in public, fire cracker violations, and the ever popular public nudity.
These minor infractions could be booked, cited, and released, once.
Get arrested a second time, you sat in the “wagon” until its regular half hour return to the station to empty its holdees.
It all started when someone got arrested and they had a lot of “friends” that didn’t want them arrested. The officers walked the arrestees back to the command center for booking. I seem to remember it was a firework violation, really nothing serious.
The crowd however got caught up as crowds often do. The chant of “Let ‘em go” was picked up and as the officers and prisoners moved through the crowd it was like the cartoon snowball rolling downhill. The chant got bigger and louder as it followed the officers and arrestees.
A call went out for everyone to rally to the command center. It wasn’t exactly an “officer needs help 10-13” call, but pretty close. My partner Ray and I jogged down to the lane entrance right behind the crowd. The “Let ‘em go” was getting louder and more insistent and the crowd was becoming ugly.
As Ray and I pushed our way through the crowd I spotted a well built, bald oriental male that seemed between the crowd and the several uniformed officers.
I couldn’t hear what he was saying but he seemed to be trying to make or keep peace between the two groups.
Ray and I crossed to the police “side” as the crowd got louder and more stirred up. Several cops started to step forward and that was when the “peacemaker” turned and physically shoved two of the officers backwards and away from the civilian crowd.
Things really exploded then. The 2 groups rushed at each other.
I tried to keep my eye on the peacekeeper. I decided he was “going in” for shoving the 2 officers.
The two groups weren’t doing any more than shoving at this point but it was loud and confusing.
That’s when I see “peacekeeper” to one side as he stumbled a little and almost lost his balance. That’s when I threw the best left punch in my life. It caught him between the ear and the jaw point and he dropped like bag of rags.
I was reaching for my cuffs when one of the other cops yelled
“They hit the Major. Major Kim is down.”
Major Kim, the new Patrol Division Commander?
I looked around and didn’t see any uniforms on the ground. What I did see was several officers helping and protecting, the guy I was calling “the peacekeeper”.
Today this would be called an OMG moment, because I realized I had just punched my new division commander. Not just hit him. I blind-sided, sucker punched and false cracked my new patrol boss unconscious. Yeah, an OMG moment.
It turned the tide. The cops started taking everything serious. Flashlights, handcuffs, and black jacks sort of serious.
This caused the crowd to decide they needed to be any place but where all these angry cops were. It didn’t take long and they were all running in other directions.
Everything was pretty anti-climactic from there.
A few facts did come out, and these are important;
The Major was in plain clothes, and had not notified anyone he would be checking out the command center when it all started.
He was trying to calm everyone down when he got hit. He didn’t see who hit him and none of the surrounding officers had either.
Only a couple of crowd members suffered lumps and bruises and no one ended in the ER.
I never told anyone but my partner that I threw that punch, even though I would have had free beers for a long, long time.
Glory is one thing, getting fired would have been possible but being on that Major’s bad side, probably until the day one of us retired, would have been a whole new level of hell.
Hey Major, no hard feelings. Hey?