Meter’s ticking down on 5th C.O.

By Josh Rogers

Word on the street is that Deputy Inspector Michael Lau is being pushed out as Fifth Precinct commanding officer because police brass thought that as the C.O. he was too tough on the illegal police parkers on Mott St.

Lau, who started as a rookie in the Chinatown precinct 20 years ago, could not have won any friends nearby at One Police Plaza when he ordered cars towed during the summer. He has privately hinted that his crackdown may have led to his departure, according to one source. A proud graduate of P.S. 2, Lau grew up in the neighborhood and may have been seen as too sympathetic to residents.

Precinct commanders are rotated every few years, and it would be unusual for a change to be made after only a year. Lau, in his early 40s, is retiring, according to several neighborhood sources. Lau told The Villager in the spring that he began dreaming about joining the force at age 12, when he saw his mother robbed: “I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t sure I could do it,” Lau said in April. “I was a short, Chinese kid, and I never saw a Chinese cop.”

Lau said through an intermediary that he could only speak to the press with Police Plaza’s permission. Police spokesperson John Kelly denied an interview request because he said there is no official word yet on Lau’s retirement.

Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, said she doesn’t know if the rumor about Lau being pushed out is true, but the inspector did tell her he was leaving because of family considerations.

“I begged him not to retire,” Stetzer said. “He was wonderful on the parking issue.”