Retired Honolulu Police Department Maj. Gary Dias, who became familiar with Oahu residents as the face of HPD’s Homicide Detail in the 1980s and ’90s when killings were more frequent and more high-profile, died Friday at his home in Hawaii Kai.
He was 69.
Dias served in the department from 1971 to 1998, in nearly every division, working Chinatown foot patrol and as Windward sergeant, as well as on traffic and scientific investigations. He held forensic science fairs and helped create community programs. One of them was Sherlock Holmes Night, where teams solved make- believe crimes while learning about police techniques.
But he was best known when he led Homicide and later HPD’s hostage negotiation team.
In the 2000s, Bess Press published “Honolulu Cop,” a reflection of his HPD career. That was followed by “Honolulu Homicide” and “Honolulu CSI,” co-authored with his second wife, reporter Robbie Dingeman.
After retirement from HPD, Dias worked as director for security and emergency preparedness for The Queen’s Medical Center until he retired in 2017.
Born and raised in Honolulu, he was a graduate of Damien High School and Wayland Baptist University. He earned a master’s degree from Chaminade University, and the love he had for police science developed into a second career teaching the field at Wayland, Chaminade, the University of Hawaii at West Oahu, Hawaii Pacific University and Honolulu Community College.
He is survived by wife Joan Parker-Dias; children, Ryan, Kevin, Samantha and Alexis; seven grandchildren; hanai daughter Buna Nuralieva; mother Lillianl; brother Steven; and sisters Maryann, Claire and Debbie. A memorial service will be scheduled later due to the pandemic.
Dias was hospitalized in January after a heart attack and was undergoing treatment for his continuing battle with kidney and heart disease, which likely caused his death, according to the family.