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OCC officer mixes police work with martial arts

David Dye, known as the Samurai Cop, returns to the college where he graduated nearly 50 years ago.

January 03, 2014|By Hannah Fry

The Samurai Cop is back at Orange Coast College, nearly 50 years after graduating from the school he credits with preparing him for his law enforcement career.

David Dye, 68, returned in the fall as a part-time campus safety officer.

During his 34-year career with the Costa Mesa Police Department, his colleagues dubbed him "the Samurai Cop," an homage to Dye's two passions: law enforcement and martial arts.

"After my retirement, I wanted to get back to my roots. I wanted to give back a little bit of what I got from the college," he said. "I regard the campus as a city within the city of Costa Mesa."

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Dye's experience as a police officer and a martial arts instructor make him "more than overqualified" for a job as a public safety officer, said John Famer, chief of campus safety for OCC.

"We have former police officers come in here and think that being at a college is like being in a police department and it's not," Farmer said. "It's not just a matter of kicking butt. It's a matter of being diplomatic and getting the job done and he has that quality."

Dye, a California native, graduated from OCC's police academy in 1967 and became a full-time Costa Mesa police officer, a job he kept until he retired in 2000.

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Black-belt resume

He became interested in self-defense while attending high school in Inglewood.

"I got picked on a lot because of my red hair," he said. "My dad taught me how to box and got me interested in martial arts."

While working as a police officer, Dye moonlighted as a martial arts instructor. In 1980 he opened Samurai Cop Self-Defense Academy, 1360 Logan Ave, Suite 108 in Costa Mesa, where he could teach others to avoid danger and defend themselves.

Dye, who has practiced martial arts for 51 years, has black belts in Yoshinkan Aikido, Shotokan Karate Jutsu, Kodokan Judo and Jujitsu, and the Hawaiian martial art of Kaihewalu Lua.

"My martial arts career was my life outside the force," he said.

But the two aren't completely unrelated.

He credits much of his success as a police officer with his martial arts training, which gave him the ability to defuse situations before they turned violent.

"If it wasn't for my martial arts training, I wouldn't be where I am in my law enforcement career," he said.

In addition to the numerous classes he teaches several nights a week in his academy, Dye also helps fellow officers learn defensive tactics to assist them in their careers.

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