Dept. of Public Safety Names New State Sheriff

November 27, 2020, 6:23 AM HST (Updated November 27, 2020, 6:23 AM)
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William “Billy” Oku Jr.

There’s a new sheriff in town.

The Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety (PSD) on Wednesday appointed William “Billy” Oku Jr. as State Sheriff. Oku will begin leading the department’s Sheriff Division, effective Dec. 1, 2020.

“Billy will bring valuable experience in his new role as Sheriff,” said PSD Acting Director Edmund ‘Fred’ Hyun. “Billy has a wealth of law enforcement and security management experience going back over 30 years. He will provide effective leadership, accountability, and will strive to obtain accreditation and certification through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA), which requires a comprehensive and uniform written directive that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibility.”

Oku began his career in law enforcement in 1981 as a state law enforcement officer under the Attorney General’s Office. In 1983, he transferred to the State of Hawaii Sheriff’s Division as a Deputy Sheriff.

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In 1988, Oku joined the Honolulu Police Department, working in Patrol, Specialized Services Division (SWAT), Crime Reduction Unit, and the Criminal Investigations Divisions Gang Task Force. In 2000, Oku laterally transferred from the Honolulu Police Department to the State of Washington and worked as a Deputy Sheriff for Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. In 2001 he moved on to work as a Nuclear Officer for Pacific Gas and Electric’s Nuclear Power Plant in California.

Upon return to Hawai‘i in 2003, Oku continued his career as an Assistant Security Director for Ala Moana Center and then Operations Manager for Akal Security and Investigations. While at Akal, he served as the regional operations branch manager responsible for oversight of the armed officers assigned to the US District Court, District of Hawai‘i, as well as those assigned to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) K-9 Unit at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and at Hickam Air Force Base. In 2010, retired HPD Chief of Police Lee Donohue appointed Oku to serve as his Chief of Staff in the Honolulu City Council.

Up until his appointment as State Sheriff, Oku served as Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Governor and was also tasked as the lead for the State Law Enforcement Coalition (SLEC), working with state and county entities addressing COVID-19 initiatives under Major General Kenneth S. Hara.

The current Sheriff, Al Cummings, is retiring on Dec. 1, after 40 years of service to the state.

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