All the current law enforcement ambuses, shootings are not a new thing. It’s happened before.
The early 70’s were really hard on police officers. There were the Viet Nam protests and the anti-police feeling across the country. Paranoia was heavy in a lot of officers. Especially a young ex-Military policeman.
There was a lot going on back then what with the Viet Nam War, SDS Weatherman bombing ROTC buildings, there had even been a suspicious fire at the U of H ROTC. The Black Panthers were rattling their swords and lots of “kill the cops” crap was being thrown around.
It was 1971, Kalakaua was a 2-way street. As Jack Webb used to say, I was working the swing watch in Waikiki. I had just come on duty but had to wait for some day shift officers to return their vehicles so I could get a patrol unit. The shift was almost an hour old before I finally got on the street to patrol.
I was working the Waikiki area around the draft induction and R and R center of Fort DeRussy. This was the scene of many anti-war protests and demonstrations. There hadn’t been any shootings but there had been a lot of confrontations, fights and scuffles between protesters, military and civilian police officers, and GI’s on R and R.
I had spent several years as a “town patrol” military police officer before joining the HPD so I was familiar with some of the protesters from working on Fort DeRussy. I was also real familiar with the Waikiki area having spent the years of my youth there.
Just 3 days before, we had been shown an “Officer Survival” film that depicted some of the booby traps that had been used on officers on the mainland. To say the paranoia was high is to be understating things. Many officers had been reacting with their fists faster than usual. I won’t say it was because of the film, but I won’t say it wasn’t.
I had just started driving down the main street, Kalakaua Avenue, when I thought the war had come home.
I was past the R and R center and entering the area surrounded by high rise hotels when it happened.
I can still hear the boom that sent shards of safety glass all over the interior of the vehicle. I was driving one of the newer vehicles with the plastic window between the driver and the back seat instead of a wire screen. This kept me from being cut by all the flying glass.
I slammed the car to a stop, hit the blue light, and bailed out of the driver’s door with my gun in one hand and the radio mike in the other. I took a quick look at the remains of my back window and made the radio call no officer wants to make;
“68-unit six eight–1015” (officer in trouble)
A “ten fifteen” is not made lightly. It means officer needs assistance. This call brings every officer within range at full speed. The radio operators will often simulcast the call if the officer is in an area that borders 2 or 3 frequencies. This brings help from every direction, all at full speed. With what I perceived as shots being fired, I didn’t hesitate.
“68. I have a 10-15 at Kuhio and Kaiulani. I believe shots fired.”
I could hear the afternoon become crowded with the sirens of vehicles coming from every direction, some the wrong way on one-way streets.
In very few minutes the street was blocked with vehicles, motorcycles, and officers, guns in hand, looking for the possible sniper.
Soon the area got calmed down by cooler heads. No one heard the shots, but the shattered rear window of my vehicle was proof that something had happened.
It took a smart evidence tech to pick up the first “clue”.
As he was looking in the rear of the vehicle he asked,
“Were you transporting any wet people today?”
Since I had just started, I replied that I hadn’t. Then he asked me why the backseat was all wet. My educated response was, “Huh?”
A careful investigation finally turned up several small pieces of red rubber. Yep, a water balloon.
It seems that someone in one of the high-rise hotels had thrown a water balloon and it had hit the rear window. Falling from one of the upper floors it would make a pretty big bang when it hit.
A bang that would make any cop think he was being shot at by a sniper.
It took a long time for me to forget the Mad Water Bomb 10-15.
It took even longer to live it down.