The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Francis Keala Talked About Crime, the Courts and Frustrations with the Media in 1980

HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor Paradise of the Pacific, which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes this the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at February 1980.


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HONOLULU sits down with Francis Keala, Honolulu’s fifth chief of police and the first to have a college degree, to talk about crime in Hawai‘i, the courts and frustrations with the media.


Though the half-Hawaiian son of a career Army officer shuns the spotlight, he’s “an articulate man with a proud bearing, dressed impeccably, giving the impression of an executive of a corporation rather than that of an individual who once worked in vice and criminal investigation,” HONOLULU says.


During the interview, Keala stresses that though he was known for fighting organized crime, “organized crime really wasn’t our problem,” he says. “It was the everyday street crime and the individual neighborhoods or homes that were being burglarized. These were the types of crimes affecting the ordinary citizen and yet everybody was taking off on organized crime.”


During his tenure, the State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers formed, and women were allowed to join the force for the first time. Keala retired in 1983. He died in 2017 at 86, less than a year before Honolulu got its first female chief, Susan Ballard.


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