Thursday, July 15, 2010

Interview With Retired Detective Joe Lum

On April 21, 1982, I interviewed retired Detective Joe Lum, at his beautiful home located in the hills above Kaimuki, on the island of Oahu. He was a terrific interview! Besides being well spoken, he was a very, very, warm person. Detective Lum was born in Kohala, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, and joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1936. He had some wonderful things to say about Chang Apana, and they are included in the interview posted below.

I must mention this though: My interview with Detective Lum lasted for two hours, and all of it was captured on audio tape. (I have since digitized it) He was one of the lead investigators on the case of the two murdered Honolulu police officers, Abraham E. Mahiko and Andrew R. Morales, who were massacred in Kakaako, on December 16, 1963. This was a very tragic case, and Detective Lum spoke at length about it and presented meticulous details about the subsequent investigation and apprehension of the culprits who committed these heinous crimes. This case bothered him, and I knew that he felt compelled to speak out about it. During that part of the interview, I shut up and let him speak freely. Even though I recorded all of this over 27 years ago, my recent revisiting of the audio tape has haunted me, and some how, I know that I must eventually share the complete interview with some one.  As of now I don't know who, but this information can not be lost, as it's an important historical document. The deaths of those two police officers, marked a dark day for the Honolulu Police Department. Retired Detective Joe Lum passed away on May 13, 1984.  Below is a fragment of the interview with Detective Joe Lum.

Detective Lum:
"See...Chang Apana...Ah, I knew Chang when I was going to, going to school in fact. But, ah, you see he was, ah, ah...he brought in... stakeout. What I mean, he'd go out on a job, and stakeout on a job. And, ah...change clothes, and change appearance and all of that stuff there. And lot of, lot of the, the information that he got, was through contact. Talking to people, going amongst people and mingling with them. The ways of living, you know, the environment then, entirely different from today.

"He was a good undercover man, you think, master of disguise, maybe?"

Detective Lum:
"Well, ah, I couldn't comment too much on that there because, might say that, ah...we kinda...knew Chang Apana. The guys on the street see. Chang Apana was one of them, and he worked mostly the Chinatown area. Chinatown area, and amongst the Hawaiians. See? He was able to communicate with the Hawaiians in, ah, Hawaiian language, and Chinese, and he had his contact. His mode of investigation, was... goes back to the beginning of time. You go to him, you go to him; you go to them, and they hand the information, then you work your case. Whereas today, why, you gotta be scientific you know. this here, and that there...different laws, that will tell you, you can do this, and tell you, you can do that. Ah, well it's kinda, kinda rough."

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