Assistant chief sues KPD, county

A Kaua’i Police Department assistant chief filed a lawsuit against the department, the police chief and the County of Kaua’i, alleging retaliation under the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

Clayton Arinaga claims that he was retaliated against for reporting to KPD Chief K.C. Lum that three vice officers who went to Maui last year for a training seminar, but did not attend any events.

He claims that Lum instituted adverse job actions, and was told by Lum that he was going to be investigated for a 2000 incident that involved a man who threatened to commit suicide.

Arinaga alleges that he was retaliated against for blowing the whistle about the three officers, and therefore filed the lawsuit this week in state court.

Arinaga seeks court-ordered relief under the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, along with unspecified special, general and punitive damages to be proven at a jury trial.

Arinaga’s Honolulu attorney, Margery Bronster, did not return a phone call seeking comment about the case.

County Attorney Lani Nakazawa also did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Lum did not return a phone call seeking comment.

According to the lawsuit, Arinaga found out in September that three vice officers failed to attend a KPD-approved training seminar on Maui. The three officers had been ordered to attend the seminar, which had been paid for with county money.

In October, according to the suit, Arinaga reported what he had found out to Deputy Police Chief Ron Venneman, who was acting chief while Lum was on vacation. Arinaga said that an investigation was necessary.

The lawsuit shows that, when Lum returned from vacation, Arinaga reiterated to Lum his concerns about an investigation into the vice officers’ Maui trip.

According to the lawsuit, Lum said that no investigation was warranted, and that officials in both the county prosecutor’s office and the FBI had determined that no investigations were warranted.

Lum also ordered Arinaga not to start one up, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit shows that Arinaga claims that on Nov. 17, Lum sent him a memo, informing him that he was going to be put on administrative leave with pay for 30 days.

The memo said that he was going to be investigated for hindering prosecution in connection with an incident that took place in 2000.

In the memo, Lum said that an investigator from the county prosecutor’s office would be doing the investigating.

Lum said in the memo that the investigation would be extended if it is not finished within 30 days.

According to the lawsuit, on Dec. 17, Arinaga got a phone call from Venneman, saying that he would be reinstated on Dec. 22. Arinaga was also told that three working days would be charged against vacation time.

It was not clear by press-time if the investigation by the prosecutor’s office into the 2000 incident was completed.

According to the lawsuit, Arinaga intervened in a situation in which a man had threatened to commit suicide. During the incident, Arinaga stepped in and defused the situation so that no one would get hurt.

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