Web feature

Oakland police Sgt. Daniel Sakai, killed in line of duty, was a '96 Cal grad

| 23 March 2009

Oakland Police Sgt. Daniel Sakai, who was killed on Saturday, March 21, along with three of his fellow officers, leaves behind many mourning friends on the UC Berkeley campus.

Daniel SakaiDaniel Sakai
Sakai graduated from the College of Natural Resources in 1996 with a degree in forestry and natural resources and also worked as a community service officer (CSO) with the UC Berkeley Police Department from 1992 to 1997. His wife, Jennifer Sakai, is a training officer on the UCPD force.

"Dan was a very special young man who was clearly a born leader," said UCPD Chief Victoria Harrison. "He was committed to public service and making a difference in other people's lives. Our hearts go out to his wife, daughter, parents and family. He will be greatly missed."

"He was the salt of the earth," said Sgt. Karen Alberts, who supervised Sakai when he was a student at UC Berkeley and the CSO assistant program coordinator, essentially running the CSO program. "He was smart and a very good people person, and just an all-around nice guy. It's really tough on everyone in the department."

As a CSO, Daniel Sakai escorted students, faculty and staff through the campus at night and patrolled the roads and trails of Strawberry Canyon. He also was a member of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity chapter at Cal.

From 1994 to 1996, Sakai supervised UC Berkeley student and fellow CSO Cyril Manning, who said his boss "held himself with the posture of a Marine even when we were basically kids, and exuded that leadership and confidence. It is literally his posture I see when I picture Dan."

"It was clear from the moment I met him that not only was he determined to be a police officer, but that he was the kind of guy you'd want every cop to be," added Manning, now director of public affairs for the College of Natural Resources.

Sakai's academic advisor, John Battles, associate professor of environmental science, policy and management, said that his former student "was a great kid. When I asked him what he wanted to do after graduation, he said he wanted to help people when things were bad; he wanted to become a police officer."

Battles said that Sakai likely was a great CSO, as he was "at the same time very protective and completely reassuring not to mention the fact that he was handsome and charming." This caused a bit of problem for the UCPD dispatcher, he said, since callers would ask not just for any CSO escort, but specifically for Sakai.

Battles noted that Sakai was unsure he could get into the police academy because he had diabetes, so Battles urged him to continue his education as a forestry graduate student. Sakai had worked in Battles' lab while an undergraduate and had attended the forestry summer camp in 1995, which Battles helped teach.

But Sakai was determined, no matter what, to be a police officer, Battles said, and after a brief stint in Japan teaching English, Sakai was accepted into the police academy and joined the Oakland Police Department as an officer in 2000.

Sakai, who was 35, leaves behind a young daughter as well as his wife.

Another of the dead officers, John Hege, is the son of two UC Berkeley alumni, Dr. and Mrs. John S. Hege of Piedmont.