Born at Hanamaulu, Kauai, Detective Joe S. Carvalho (1903-1992) first entered police work on Kauai in 1925 when Sheriff William H. Rice appointed him a special police officer — a position he held until Rice persuaded him to join the Kauai Police Department as a foot patrolman in 1941.
On Dec. 7, 1941, patrolman Carvalho was on duty at the Kauai police station when he heard Honolulu radio personality Webley Edwards report that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by enemy planes.
Carvalho recalled that “I called my superiors by telephone and told them what I had heard over the Honolulu radio station. They could not believe me. I asked that they listen to the radio. A few minutes later, they ordered me to call all police officers to report for duty immediately. Soon thereafter, the Civil Defense sirens sounded the air raid alert. The people were startled and confused.”
Police officers were then deployed to keep people off the streets and residents were warned to be on the alert for enemy planes, while Carvalho was put in charge of security guards protecting important bridges.
In 1948, then Lieutenant Carvalho set up the Kauai Police Department detective bureau; he was promoted to captain five years later, and he retired in 1970 as deputy chief.
The service award he was most proud of was a commendation from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
During the 1980s, he wrote a fascinating column of detective stories for The Garden Island newspaper based on information he’d detailed in his case notebooks with titles such as: “The Case of the Hanalei Bridge Burglaries,” “The Case of the Japanese Stowaway,” “The Case of Larceny Under False Pretenses,” “The Case of the Filipino Gambler,” and several others.
When asked about crime on Kauai during his day, he admitted “There are a few snakes in the garden, but as humans go, the people here are no worse than anyplace else and probably a whole lot better.”
Detective Carvalho and his wife, Georgina, had two sons, Paul and Raymond S. Carvalho.