The state Department of Public Safety announced Wednesday that Billy Oku will step in as the new state sheriff, whose responsibilities include overseeing the more than 300 deputy sheriffs in the department.

Billy Oku was named the new state sheriff Wednesday. Courtesy

Oku will replace Sheriff Al Cummings, who is retiring Tuesday, according to the department. Cummings was among high ranking sheriffs who didn’t go through basic training until 2016 despite having served in the department for decades prior.

Oku began his career as a state law enforcement officer in the Department of the Attorney General, and even worked as a deputy sheriff for several years in the 1980s. Between 1988 and 2000, Oku worked at Honolulu Police Department in various roles, including stints on the Crime Reduction Unit and gang task force.

He also has experience in law enforcement on the U.S. continent and in private security. Most recently, he worked in Gov. David Ige’s office on COVID-19 initiatives alongside Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara.

“Billy has a wealth of law enforcement and security management experience going back over 30 years,” acting Public Safety Director Fred Hyun said in a statement, adding that Oku will also help the Sheriff Division acquire accreditation from the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.

Lawmakers required those credentials since 2011, but the department only began the accreditation process in late 2019.

Hawaii deputy sheriffs generally operate around state facilities including the courts and State Capitol. They also help issue warrants and serve as part of the governor’s security detail.

Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service.
 
That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.
 
Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.

About the Author