Souvenir Patrol: Honolulu Police Department Merchandise Benefits the People Behind the Badge
By Kent Coules, Publisher
Interior of the HPRA store, and their popular "Aloha" shirt [hprahawaii.org]
Finding the perfect souvenirs to bring home from your Hawai‘i vacation is never easy. If you’re on the prowl for something authentically local but that’s still suspiciously out of the ordinary, follow your leads to 1537 Young Street. Sitting just outside of the jurisdiction of the Honolulu Police Department’s Waikīkī precinct, you’ll find a great store with a great cause: the Honolulu Police Relief Association (HPRA) Store.
I staked out the store recently to find out more about the organization and investigate their merchandise. Located on the second floor of the Hawaii Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union Building, the spacious store has plenty of free parking available, plus everything a souvenir-shopper could ask for: t-shirts, hoodies, caps, visors, children’s apparel, toys, key chains, decals, luggage tags, money clips and carbon fiber pens, all emblazoned with HPD-related imagery or text.
“One of our most popular selling items,” says Police Relief Association Vice-President Robert Cravalho, “is the 1.5-inch challenge coins. The best selling t-shirt is the “Aloha” shirt with the HPD badge in place of the letter ʻo.ʻ”
I holster my police-related puns so I can question—er—talk to Cravalho and HPRA President Robert Imoto about the history of the Association. “The Honolulu Police Department was founded in 1932,” begins Imoto, a retired HPD Captain. “The Honolulu Police Relief Association was also formed in 1932 as an entity to get group life insurance offerings for the officers. Over the years it expanded to include civilian employees, as well as retirees. It continues today.”
The HPD and HPRA were both formed in 1932. [Undated photo from hprahawaii.org]
In addition to providing health and wellness benefits to its members and their families, HPRA seeks to “take care of officers any way we can,” says Cravalho. That includes death benefits, discounts, even tattoo removal. “When the department updated its policy a few years ago prohibiting exposed tattoos, we helped fund the removal of tattoos to our officers who needed the service.”
The store itself had more humble beginnings. “Sometime in the ‘80s we started stocking t-shirts in a closet in the HLEFCU building,” recalls Imoto. “Officers and credit union employees could purchase them. Their popularity grew. We then partnered with the Satellite City Hall in Ala Moana Center and sold merchandise there for years. We had to come up with a new plan after some IRS tax code changes. That’s when we opened our present store on Young Street.”
It’s always great to find cool take-home gifts and keepsakes, especially ones that you can’t find in the Waikīkī shops. It’s even better when the money goes to help the people who protect paradise.
For more information on the Honolulu Police Relief Association, and all of their great merchandise, be sure to visit hprahawaii.org.
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