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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 8:09 p.m., Saturday, April 1, 2006

Former Police Chief Nakamura dies at 58

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer

Former Honolulu Police Chief Michael Nakamura, who brought the idea of community policing to the HPD and later fought for better services for disabled people after being forced to use his own motorized scooter, died at 1 p.m. today at Kuakini Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends.

Nakamura would have turned 59 on April 9.

Long after his retirment from the department on Dec. 30, 1997, Nakamura was still referred to as "Chief" whenever he was seen around town.

He had been famous for always calling every HPD employee on their birthdays — no matter how busy he was running the department. As his death came closer yesterday, Nakamura whisphered to his youngest son, Keola, to remember to call Nakamura's Auntie Sachie on her birthday, said Nakamura's younger brother, Glenn Nakamura, 51.

"He said, 'Don't tell her I'm in the hospital,' but she already knew," Glenn Nakamura said. "That's something hard to fathom — knowing the condition he was in — to make that request."

Nakamura, like his two younger brothers, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that Nakamura traced all the way back to his days at Farrington High School, where his muscles often cramped up or spasmed after exercising.

"It's been a struggle for him for a while," Glenn Nakamura said. "He had been having difficulty breathing and swallowing this past week."

When he died, Nakamura was surrounded by nearly 40 people in the hospital's critical care unit, Glenn Nakamura said.