Robin Hu on the scene

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Retired officer serves as instrumental chaplain to Sheriff’s Department 

When a tour bus and truck accident occurred on the 60 Freeway in Southern California Jan. 7, Major Robin Hu went into action.

The crash resulted  in 11 people hospitalized and a three-hour freeway closure. A captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Industry, Calif., station requested Hu, the station chaplain, provide on-scene services. As a Chinese-speaker, Hu communicated with the bus passengers who spoke Chinese and supported the emergency service personnel as the only clergy on scene.

Hu entered the College for Officers Training, “Blood and Fire” Session in Hong Kong and was sent to the USA Central Territory to finish training. Commissioned as an officer in Chicago in 1973, Hu was appointed as a corps officer in Taiwan until 1983. He and his wife opened a Chinese San Gabriel Corps in Southern California in 1984, and transferred to San Francisco Chinatown Corps as corps officers from 1995-2004. The Hus retired early due to health concerns.

In 2006, Hu became one of the 26 chaplains of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and was assigned to the Industry Station. He was the first Chinese American and a Salvation Army officer ever appointed a chaplain of the department.

“My jobs are mainly supporting the deputies—in the nation there are more police suicides than dead on duty. Their divorce rate is 90 percent. Drinking is a common problem,” Hu said. “Their dangerous daily missions, their meetings of ugly scenes, the demands, pressure from the public and from their superiors and the severe temptations are real. Counseling is a vital part of my ministry.”

Last summer Hu responded with the station watch sergeant to a tense home invasion situation where a lone gunman occupied a home. The house was surrounded by deputies, a Sheriff’s helicopter surveyed the house in the sky, and negotiations had proved fruitless.

“I was called upon to give one last try,” Hu said. “After a brief prayer, I picked up the phone and began talking to the gunman. Ten minutes into the conversation, the gunman agreed and put down his gun, stood up, raised his arms high, opened the front door and was taken into custody peacefully.”

Hu was named “Chaplain of the Year 2012,” a recognition that had not been given to a chaplain in the previous 10 years and has not been issued to another chaplain since.

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