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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

Deputy chief to end HPD career

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu Police Department's second in command — senior deputy chief Robert Au — is leaving the force after 38 years of service to accept an airport security job on Maui.

Au, 60, said this week he will take an administrator position with the newly-formed federal Transportation Security Administration to oversee airport security on Maui.

His last day with the police department is Nov. 1, he said.

Au said he had already planned to retire from HPD within the next two years, when the TSA positions were created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. As police deputy chief, Au made $99,600 a year, according to the department. He declined to give his new position's salary.

"The position itself is something that is still being finalized, so I'm not sure what my title would exactly be as of yet," he said.

"It was something where I was coming to the end of my career here, and this job opportunity came up," Au said. "It's a new challenge in which I hope to utilize my years of experience at HPD."

Au is the second prominent Hawai'i police administrator to leave for a federal airport security position recently. Hawai'i County Police chief James Correa retired in July to take a TSA position handling airport security on the Big Island.

Au is also the second Honolulu police deputy chief to leave the department this year. Deputy Chief Michael Carvalho retired in March and was replaced by Glen Kajiyama, who would now be senior deputy chief under Police Chief Lee Donohue.

Donohue, who was on a Mainland business trip and has yet to name Au's replacement, said in a written statement that the department "is losing a good person who gave 38 years of service to the community ... it is certainly a loss for us."

"He is a great role model for other officers," Donohue said.

While Au's retirement was expected by the department, Donohue earlier this week said he was concerned that rank-and-file HPD officers, as well as those in the Neighbor Island counties, would be courted away by the new federal security jobs. TSA is planning to hire 600 people to replace private security guards.

TSA guards will be paid between $23,000 and $35,000 plus a 25 percent cost-of-living allowance.

Au, who worked up the HPD ranks together with Donohue, said he is leaving the department on good terms.

"I want to thank Chief Donohue for giving me the opportunity to work under him the past five years," Au said. "I've discussed this job opening with him for the past month, and I just felt this opportunity may not arise again."

Au said he planned to continue living on O'ahu and would commute by air to his new Maui job.

Au, who has worked under five police chiefs, began his police career in 1964 working patrol as part of the department's metropolitan task force. He spent 21 years in the department's criminal investigation division and is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation national academy.

As deputy chief, he also oversaw the department's narcotics/vice division and the secretive criminal intelligence unit.

Au coached the University High boys' basketball team for 10 seasons during two different stints, with his team winning the state championship in 1987. He also played for the University of Hawai'i football team in the early 1960s.

Reach Scott Ishikawa at sishikawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8110.