Hawaii Police Department: Mission and Challenges

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Hawaii islands were first discovered by James Cook a police Captain. Back then each of the islands was ruled by a chief who was considered a god and had the authority to make all laws for the island. In ancient Hawaii, law enforcement was through the kapu system which was a government based on traditions (Honolulupd.org, 2016). There were laws that were considered to be made by the gods and those that were made by the chiefs. Violation of the laws for the gods was considered the highest abomination in the land, followed by those of the chiefs. The roots of the Hawaii Police Department trace back to 1840 when a supreme court was established, and the Hawaiian first constitution was made. The constitution established various executive, judicial officers who appointed sheriffs who would, in turn, appoint constables who were given the responsibility to oversee law maintenance in each of the islands. The monarchial system was overthrown in 1893, and the Provisional Government of Hawaii took over and formed the Republic of Hawaii which established its own police force. The new government established four counties in the now new Hawaii Republic (Honolulupd.org, 2016).

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HPDs mission statement shows the commitment of their men and women in uniform to provide exemplary services through partnerships that reduce crimes build trust and enhance the quality of life in the community. The department is directed by the values of integrity, respect and fairness.

Just like any other police force in the country, HPD is riddled with many challenges even as it strives to achieve its objectives. Each new year brings its own sets of challenges, putting the police force ever on its toes to meet these new sets of challenges. Some of these new challenges include threats of terrorism and hate crimes which come with their own share of difficulties on how they should be handled. Here are some of the notorious challenges facing the Hawaii Police Department:

The federal agencies in most instances have found themselves meddling in state matters. They may be justified in so doing owing to numerous cases that had been bungled by state police departments I the past. The federal government's involvement in state matters is driven by fear that the state units might not be able to handle the matter at hand appropriately. At other times, this federal involvement might be driven by political pressure from D.C. Regardless of the reason, this federal involvement lowers personnel morale and further complicates cases (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016).

The social media has also been a source of major challenge. In most instances police officers find themselves judged in online opinion courts whenever they find themselves in a controversial situation that has been caught o camera or on video. Under such circumstances, the media influences public opinion, and an officer might not get a fair hearing in a case.

Racial profiling has been a major challenge facing the police department. The police force has often been accused of racial prejudice in the course of doing their job. Minority groups often complain that the police target them not necessarily because they have committed any crime, but because of their race or even religious affiliation. Blacks have often been the most vocal on this issue as most of their youths have fallen victim to questionable police murders. A notable example is the Ferguson shooting of a black male by a white police officer that triggered massive protests throughout the land. There is also the problem of reporting hate crimes as it will negatively affect the image of the state, owing to its reputation for being one of the best tourist destinations. In one such case, a tourist was strolling on the beaches of Hawaii with his family when he was accosted by locals and told they were not welcome in the island. The case was reported to the police, but it could not proceed further as the judge, according to the officer handling the matter, would side with the assailants. It would, therefore, make no sense to pursue a losing battle. From this, it is clear that authorities, due to their favoritism of certain natives, hamper the police force's efforts in handling hate crimes.

Limited resources allocated to the police department majorly hamper the effectiveness of the force. The situation has been so dire that the police department in Hawaii has resorted to using private vehicles of their officers to do patrols. This in itself is a good move, but the real motivation behind its inception is the limited number of patrol cars. This scarcity of resources also implies that the force is not well paid and, therefore, less motivated. To earn extra bucks, some officers have resorted to engaging in unscrupulous deals with criminals. Shortage of resources also implies that special units might not be available to attend to rare emergencies such as terrorist attacks. These units require a high level of specialized training which needs huge amounts of investments. This means that the police force will not be able to render effective services to the public (Southern Poverty Law Center, 2016).

The Hawaii Police Department does a commendable job of maintaining law and order despite the numerous challenges it faces. More needs to be done to the police force so that it can render quality services. More resources need to be allocated to boost morale and to equip this vital authority. Diversity in the police force should be cultivated so that a wider array of issues can be addressed. Community policing should also be introduced to foster better relations between the police and the people. This will lessen existing prejudices and wrong perceptions from both sides.


Honolulupd.org,. (2016). About HPD. Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://www.honolulupd.org/department/index.php

Southern Poverty Law Center,. (2016). Hawaii Suffering From Racial Prejudice. Retrieved 3 March 2016, from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2009/hawaii-suffering-racial-prejudice

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