LIHU’E — Kaua’i Police Department Assistant Chief Clayton Arinaga showed up at the office Thursday, ready for work, but was told by supervisors that he was put on forced vacation, according to his attorney. “He went in, expecting to be reinstated, and they said that ‘you are going to be put on forced vacation,'” said Arinaga’s attorney, Margery Bronster.
Mary Daubert, Kaua’i county’s public information officer, pointed out that county officials cannot comment on personnel issues.
It is also KPD leaders’ policy not to comment on active cases, due to confidentiality concerns, Daubert said.
Bronster said that Arinaga was put on leave in the middle of last month in retaliation for being a whistleblower. She said that Arinaga informed KPD Chief K.C. Lum of instances of wrongdoing within the department.
“We believe, as a result of that, the chief removed him from office, and started a specious investigation,” said Bronster.
Arinaga was put on leave in mid-November for 30 days, according to Bronster.
She said that if KPD leaders continue to take retaliatory actions against Arinaga, a whistleblower lawsuit will be filed against department officials.
The state’s whistleblower’s protection act makes it illegal for any employer to take adverse job action against an employee for reporting a violation of law.
“We believe that’s precisely what’s happening here,” said Bronster.
Bronster, a former state attorney general, indicated that federal-court action might also be possible.
“We will be making a decision and proceed appropriately,” said Bronster.
She said that Arinaga should be put back on the job.
“We demanded that he be reinstated immediately,” said Bronster.
Arinaga is one of three assistant chiefs in the KPD hierarchy, reporting directly to Lum and Deputy Chief Ron Venneman.
Arinaga is in charge of the Patrol Services Bureau, which includes patrol and traffic safety officers and office staff.
He has been with the department for many years.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco. com.