Tampering cop is hired by Menlo Park

Wilson Lau

Daily Post Staff Writer

A high-ranking police officer who allegedly interfered with the findings in an internal investigation of a scandal in the Oakland Police Department now works at the Menlo Park Police Department as one of the department’s top brass. 

Wilson Lau was the captain in charge of overseeing the Oakland Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. Lau was accused in an external report of downplaying the behavior of a police officer who fired his gun in the department’s elevator and who, in a separate incident, failed to report and left the scene of a vehicle collision he was involved in San Francisco. 

Lau worked for the Oakland Police Department from Feb. 10, 2007, until July 23, 2022, when he resigned. 

Before Lau’s resignation, the Oakland Police Department hired an outside investigator to lead an inquiry into certain events involving Sgt. Michael Chung, including the Department’s original internal investigation into a vehicle collision that Sgt. Chung did not report, his firing of his gun in an elevator at Oakland Police headquarters, as well as any other ancillary misconduct uncovered in the course of the investigation.

The OPD had already conducted its own internal investigation of these events. The outside investigator was retained when it was later determined that Sgt. Chung was involved in both the unreported vehicular collision and the discharge of the firearm.

‘Procedural irregularities’

The OPD retained the law firm of Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP to conduct the independent investigation. At the end of their investigation, the investigators recommended that the Department sustain multiple rules violations against Lau, as Captain of the Internal Affairs Division for “inappropriately directing a subordinate officer to downgrade the findings of the (internal) investigation such that the subject officer was not held accountable for serious misconduct and thereby avoided serious discipline.” 

According to investigator’s Conclusions and Recommendations, they identified “procedural irregularities and possible violations of OPD policy” by those conducting the initial investigations. 

The investigators found evidence that Lau had instructed the person at OPD who had written the original draft report to downplay the hit-and-run and to change the report to say the officer and Chung were being truthful in their responses to the investigator, despite the investigators’ original draft report questioning the credibility of Chung and the other officer. 

Attempt to ‘recast, deflect and minimize’

The report concluded that the actions of OPD’s Internal Affairs Division “sought to recast, deflect and minimize the severity” of the misconduct. 

This report is a public document ordered to be “publicly disclosed in full” in connection with the Oakland Police Department’s compliance with its Negotiated Settlement Agreement of Jan. 22, 2003, regarding allegations of police misconduct.

Days before resigning from the OPD, on July 18, 2022, Lau accepted a job at the East Bay Regional Parks Department, according to records on file with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).  According to POST records, Lau received an “involuntary separation” from East Bay Parks on March 23, 2023.

Lawsuit over firing

As a result of the external investigation Oakland Police Department, Chief LeRonne Armstrong was fired. On Feb. 5, Armstrong filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city. 

On July 20, 2023, Lau’s attorney, Dan Siegel, filed a lawsuit against the city of Oakland and East Bay Parks, alleging that he was the one who wanted a harsher report on Chung but that the internal investigation was turned in while he was on vacation and that he never approved the final report. Lau asserts in the suit that he was blamed for the light touch on the Internal Affairs investigation; that he was retaliated against because he wanted to hold police officers at OPD accountable; and that outside investigators accused Lau of failing to carry out a rigorous investigation of accusations against Sgt. Chung due to their joint Asian ancestry, reflecting racial bias.

Lau began his job in Menlo Park on Jan. 29, according to POST. 

‘Best qualified applicant’

The Daily Post asked both Lau and Menlo Park Police Chief Dave Norris about his hiring and his time at the East Bay police departments. Norris said in an emailed statement that the city searched nationwide for a commander and found that Lau was the “best qualified applicant, with a strong blend of intellect, compassion, experience, and leadership character.”  He stated further that he “…personally spoke with several very reputable police chiefs who have direct experience working with Commander Lau, and who all provided resounding recommendations of his ability to perform as a police leader. I am fully confident of my decision to recommend Commander Lau for this hiring, and very grateful to have him on board serving the Menlo Park Police Department and our community.”

Lau, through Norris, declined an interview and instead signed off on Norris’ response to the Post. 

Norris said a background screening, psychological screening and medical evaluation were completed before Lau was hired. 

A background investigation

“Background investigations allow us to dig much deeper and uncover more facts than an open-source media search, and the background material is made available to the psychological evaluators prior to the assessment. The actual contents of these personnel records are confidential,” Norris said. 

Lau is one of two commanders in the department. Menlo Park doesn’t have assistant chiefs but instead has two commanders — one in charge of patrol and the other in charge of special operations. Cmdr. Tony Dixon has been in charge of special operations since 2017. 

The department has 47 sworn officers with a badge and gun and 22 non-officer employees.

Norris began looking for a new commander after T.J. Moffett left the department in August for a similar position in Modesto, where he had spent most of his career. Lau’s salary was not immediately available on Friday, but the salary range for the position is listed at $160,572 to $234,259, according to the promotional pamphlet for the position.


    • If you really want to know the problem with OPDs IAD FIRST read the scathing criticism of the 9th Circuit Ct. in re how OPDs IAD INTENTIONALLY mishandled the sexual harassment complaint of former OPD female Officer Patricia Fuller to protect top brass- see Fuller v. City of Oakland,47 F.3d 1522 (1995) then

      2. SECOND read the various ALWAYS proven right legal challenges filed by HON. RET. OPD Sgt. Frank Morrow for over 15 years blasting various chiefs of police, top City and YES, even officials of the Fed. Ct. for all continuing to allow OPD’s IAD to conduct FAKE “dog and pony show” police misconduct investigations even while the Dept. and City has been in a so called police reform consent decree.

      Signed- Hon. Ret. OPD Sgt of Police Frank Morrow, “the ONLY” cop to serve in OPD with a J.D., Masters of Law, with subject matter expertise in Labor and civil rights law and OVER 30 years of sworn law enforcement experience and whose favorite pronouns are now- “I Told You So”- p.s. I’m real easy to find if you folks in the public or news media want a real truthful inside perspective from a guy who for over 3 decades was interested in truly doing the job and serving the public as opposed to “head turning in order to keep promoting!!!”

  1. I’m not a “reader” but I think you have printed too many anti-police stories. You shouldn’t ever report their lawsuits until after a jury has delivered its verdict. Instead, do stories that laud the police.

      • If you read the story again, you’ll see there was due process in the form of an independent investigation. An outside investigation is the definition of due process.

      • Kelly and Jeff sound as if they’ve got their minds made up, and no amount of evidence will change their minds. It’s a wonder why more cops don’t misbehave when you have people setting the bar so low. I just want honest, professional police. I’m disappointed Menlo Park has failed its residents once more.

      • Wrong Jeff. There was an outside independent investigation that upheld the allegations. So they’re no longer “allegations”, they’re proven facts. That’s why they fired him.

        • Wrong Jeff. Lau was formally accused of violating OPD’s general orders. An independent hearing officer was appointed. Both sides agree on the appointment. The administration made its case and Lau’s attorney was allowed to present his side of the story. Then the hearing officer issued his findings. If Lau objected, he had the option of taking the findings to Superior Court. He didn’t. You should know how the process works before you criticize it. You sound like a fool.

  2. So Lau was fired from Oakland…then East Bay Parks….and now Menlo decides this is the best pick. I think I see why the last commander went back to Modesto.

  3. 1. Lau did get due process through an outside, independent investigation;

    2. These aren’t allegations against him. They were sustained by a hearing officer.

    The paper should have done a better job explaining this, but the bottom line is that Lau got his day in court. Now Menlo Park is giving him a second chance. After the ruling in Oakland, he should have gone into another line of work.

  4. The story is fair and accurate, but it’s not the sort of thing residents want to read. So they blame the paper for news they don’t like. A classic tale of shooting the messenger. Let’s be thankful we have a local paper that’s willing to dig into a complex story like this.

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