Roger Piwowarski retired in March nearly 52 years of working as a reserve officer at the Honolulu Police Department.

On duty
52 years making
Honolulu safe

HPD honors a reserve officer's altruism
that began by buying his own uniform

By Nelson Daranciang

When Roger Piwowarski joined the Honolulu Police Department as a reserve officer he was required to pay for his uniform, jacket and service weapon -- a .38-caliber handgun.

And if he went on patrol, he had to provide the car.

That was in November 1950. Back then, as it is today, reserve officers receive no pay.

In March, Piwowarski, 84, retired after nearly 52 years. The department honored him in a ceremony this morning as the longest-serving reserve police officer.

"I joined to be helpful to others," Piwowarski said.

This service photo was taken in 1950 when Piwowarski started at the Honolulu Police Department.

He points to his faith as the source of his altruism.

"When you give or yourself, you're giving what God intended you to give. God didn't put us here to take up space."

Piwowarski said he stayed with the department "because people are so interesting."

And he would still be a reserve officer today had the department not decided it was time for him to retire.

"You don't want to wear out your welcome."

Reserve officers no longer have to pay for their own uniform or weapon or provide their own vehicle.

Piwowarski received his Pearl Harbor survivor medal when he was in the military.

However they are required to report for duty at least once a week for a minimum five-hour shift.

When Piwowarski joined the department, his shift started at 5 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and ended sometimes at midnight.

In his nearly 52-year career, Piwowarski has logged more than 43,000 hours.

For 38 of those years, Piwowarski worked full-time for Matson Navigation Co., first as a clerk and retiring as a claims inspector.

Piwowarski joined HPD four years after he ended his career as a clarinet player with the Navy, which brought him to Hawaii.

On Dec. 6, 1941, he participated in a battle of the bands at McKinley Auditorium.

After taking a nap at his in-laws house on Ward Street, he caught a taxicab back to Pearl Harbor early the next morning and arrived at 7:59 a.m., four minutes into the attack by Japanese warplanes.

E-mail to City Desk


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