Hawaii's Remarkable Women: Lucile Abreu
If it wasn't for Lucile Abreu, Susan Ballard would never have become Honolulu’s Chief of Police. "She was the person who allowed officers, female officers to be able to go out and work in patrol," Chief of Police Susan Ballard said. Abreu joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1954, at that time there were fewer than 10 women on the force. Abreu took the sergeant's exam multiple times, and always passed with flying colors but was never promoted. Her siz...
If it wasn't for Lucile Abreu, Susan Ballard would never have become Honolulu’s Chief of Police.
"She was the person who allowed officers, female officers to be able to go out and work in patrol," said Chief Ballard.
Abreu joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1954 when there were fewer than 10 women on the force.
Abreu took the sergeant's exam multiple times and always passed with flying colors but was never promoted.
Her size was part of it: she was only 5'2".
And she was female.
"They feel that women couldn't hack it," said Abreu's son, Frank Walter Abreu.
In 1972, she filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department. Two years later she won in a class action settlement.
Now, not only can women rise in the ranks, but the whole department's look changed too.
"Where did the word officer come from? Because of Lucile, the badges used to say 'patrolman,'" Chief Ballard said.
The Honolulu Police Department also eliminated the 5'8" height requirement for women and men.
"That's why every time I see one short policeman I kinda smile," Frank Walter said.
In 1975 Lucile Abreu became Detective Abreu, and the first woman assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division.
Her first priority, was always her family.
"Mom was always there for us, 24/7," said her oldest son, Frank Daryl Abreu.
Frank Daryl and Frank Walter were both HPD officers and their time on the force overlapped with their mom's.
"We learned from her, we got smart from her, and we followed her right into the job," said Frank Daryl.
The tradition of law enforcement lives on; her sons and grandsons became officers.
But the job isn't the only thing the family shares.
"He [Lucile's husband] wanted a Frank Jr. So I was born Frank Daryl because my mom insisted that I'm going to have my firstborn name Daryl. And he said, 'You know Lucile, you can pick any name you want but the standard first name is going to be Frank,'" Frank Daryl said.
There are 31 Frank Abreu's today: Lucile's husband, her four sons, grandsons, great grandsons and even an adopted daughter, Francine, share the name.
Always the matriarch, Lucile cared for her brood and her community.
"If it was a homeless person or it was someone that needed help because they just split up with their spouse or whatever it was. She was just always there," her grandson, Frank Wade Abreu, said.
Lucile retired after 25 years on the force.
In 1996, Lucile passed away from cancer at age 78.
Her legacy now lives on through her family, and the women of the Honolulu Police Department.
"Inspiring and very emotional that she kind of paved the way for a lot of women," granddaughter Maile Lee said.
Lucile Abreu, one of Hawaii’s Remarkable Women.