County, state leaders: KPD ‘a mess’

While definitive word on whether or not agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating anyone at the Kaua’i Police Department could not be confirmed yesterday, several leaders weighed in on the current state of KPD affairs.

“To me, it’s clear that we have a problem,” said state Sen. Gary Hooser, D-Kaua’i-Ni’ihau.

“I don’t know who the good guys and the bad guys are, but I know it’s a mess,” he said.

He said an outside, credible investigation is needed, and that if the FBI agents are indeed checking out KPD officials, Hooser welcomes such scrutiny.

When people call state lawmakers asking them to intervene in what is clearly a county problem, that shows a definite “lack of public confidence” in KPD officers, said state Rep. Hermina “Mina” Morita, D-Hanalei-Kapa’a.

“They have a recruitment problem,” with lofty qualifications and not-so-lofty starting pay, a manpower shortage and lack of leadership, Morita said, pointing also to a pair of officer-versus-officer lawsuits.

“I think it’s a leadership issue,” said Hooser, adding that he’s tried to step back from the issues that he said need to be resolved, and let county leaders take over.

County Councilmember Mel Rapozo, a former KPD officer, is quite blunt about what he thinks the problem is: “We have a chief who is not qualified to be chief,” he said of KPD Chief K.C. Lum.

Rapozo said Lum convinced members of the Kaua’i Police Commission, who are charged with hiring and firing of the chief, that he was the best of the three final candidates.

Lum would not comment when contacted yesterday.

Mary Daubert, Kaua’i County’s public information officer said, “We are unaware of any FBI investigation at this point in time.”

Also Thursday, Brandon Simpson, special agent and media coordinator of the FBI’s Honolulu field office, said it is the policy of the FBI not to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, unless it is a public-safety issue.

The FBI is the investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. The work of the FBI includes investigations into organized crime, drug trafficking, bank robbery, kidnapping, extortion, white-collar crime and public corruption.


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