Monday, February 9, 1998

Name: Roger Lau
Age: 52
Position: Sheriff's Department administrator
Education: McKinley High School
Pastimes: Tennis, running, gardening

Laying down Hawaii's law

Roger Lau made significant contributions to law enforcement during his 30 years with the Honolulu Police Department.

As administrator of the Sheriff's Department, he's doing the same thing at the state level.

"My education," says Lau, "is on-the-job training."

During his police career, Lau was a member of HPD's first Crime Reduction Unit, an investigative group that works the streets.

"We started in Windward Oahu and now every district has a CRU," Lau said.

Lau left the Windward CRU in the early 1970s to become a bomb specialist, and by 1976 was the sergeant-in-charge of the bomb unit.

"It was a unit that started from scratch," Lau said. "I wrote the manual on bomb response for the department.

Lau said there was a "renaissance" going on at the time that changed police philosophy "away from muscle to technique."

The Metro Squad, for example, was replaced by the Tactical Operations Division, which eventually grew into what is now the Specialized Services Division, HPD's version of SWAT.

Tactical Operations was actually a combination of Sgt. Newton Harbottle's canine unit and the bomb squad, Lau said.

Lau was sent to special-weapons assault training school at the FBI Academy when illness prevented Harbottle from going. Lau spent 17 years with the specialized division, and in 1978 wrote the SSD manual, which is still being used today.

Lau retired as a lieutenant in December 1996 to become administrator of the Sheriff's Department.

"State law enforcement needed direction to respond to public safety incidents within state jurisdiction," Lau said. "Mainly, it involves Corrections."

At the direction of state Public Safety Director Keith Kaneshiro, Lau organized a special operations group made up of sheriff's deputies, prison guards and Public Safety personnel to respond to any prison riot.

"Sixty officers in this group have received special training, so the state has the capability to respond," Lau said.

There are about 200 employees statewide in the Sheriff's Department, whose primary duty is providing security for the Judiciary.

"It's been a challenge," Lau said of his new duties. "We're trying to make use of our resources and do an efficient job with what we have."

By Rod Ohira, Star-Bulletin

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