Saturday Story

The Best of Intentions

I attended the 55 th. Recruit class of the Honolulu Police Department. At that time, 1970, we were the largest recruit class ever attempted.

This was before there was an actual “police academy”. We attended classes at the old Army Reserve building on 22nd ave near Kaimuki Intermediate School. In fact, we used the school field for some of the physical training.

We practiced “unarmed combat” and self- defense techniques at the Hawaii Aikido Dojo on Wailae Ave and 6th street. We practiced take downs, holds, and “chokes”. With several experienced martial artists in the class this training produced some rather mixed results.

I’d already had almost 2 years overseas and over 2 years of off base military police experience with H.A.S.P., so as far as the take downs and holds I was pretty well versed. As far as the “choke”, I was as good as anyone and a lot better than most. I had gotten lots of “practice” and I was really damn good at “taking them out” with what is now called the “rear naked” choke.

Class academics consisted of 50 minute classes held in a large room on the second floor of the building. We went to class from 7 am until 4 pm or later if the speaker ran over time. Speaker after speaker. No computer’s, no Power Point.

Some speakers were actual serving officers, others were guest lecturers, and professional whatever’s. There didn’t appear to be a really cohesive curriculum, but I probably missed the bigger picture. Having been through basic training, Air Force Air Police training, and Air Force N.C.O. training I felt I was a couple of steps ahead of most of my classmates. This did cause a strain in some of my class relationships. Entirely my fault, but it was how I felt.

There were several other military veterans in the class, but the majority were young men, no women, looking for a career “on the job”. All I ever wanted was to be a police officer.

Some of the non-vets were really not prepared for the real world they were about to enter. One young man that sat next to me was the son of a local photographer and studio owner. Basically a very nice, but naïve, young man. He was one of those not really ready.

The breaking point came in a “Sex Crimes” class.  The detective giving the class started passing out crime scene photos. There were actual scene photos and were graphic to say the least.

The class was the last of the day and as the pictures came to my classmate, he would give a quick glance and pass the picture on to the next guy. But, he did look at them. He made a quiet comment about, “People don’t really do this”. The detective overheard and responded, “Yes. And much worse”.

That classmate dropped out the next morning and went back to work in his father’s photography studio.

We weren’t issued badges or firearms until late in training cycle and one student made a good example of why. It was unknown why and totally out of policy, but he tried to stop a vehicle on the freeway by waving his own handcuffs at the driver. He was dismissed the next day. At that time, a recruit could be dismissed for almost no reason at all, but they usually let you hang yourself.

Over the following years the 55th Recruit class lost several graduates. One graduate was lost when he was shot while pursuing an escaped felon. The injury was such that he never returned. Another was arrested for having a sexual relationship with an underage “Explorer Scout”, several left HPD to join other, better paying mainland departments, 2 went on to join the F.B.I., several others have been arrested and fired for theft, drugs, assault, burglary, and one even for being overweight and not making the cut 6 months after graduation.

In other words, all the same stuff that any cross section of humanity would display.

I do not know how many from that class actually completed a full career, but we all started with the best of intentions.

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