Mayor calls for KPD healing

LIHU’E — The county’s top elected official called for the healing process to begin within the Kaua’i Police Department.

Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste Tuesday said officers of the department must be brought together again.

He pointed out that, no matter what people think about the ter situation at the department, all efforts should be put behind the men and women of the department, to bring the department together.

He said that he is looking to contract out facilitator services in the near future, “so we can get to the root” of the problems.

He said probably one facilitator will be needed to bring the tor groups together.

“You have to remember that most of these people were like family at one time. And I’m sure in my heart of hearts they all want to get back,” said the mayor.

He indicated that he’ll bring the idea up before members of the County Council.

“I think everybody has it in their heart that they want to bring the department together,” said Baptiste.

The mayor pointed out that he mentioned in past discussions with KPD Chief K.C. Lum that the department needs to move forward.

He said he hopes personal differences or opinions will be put aside, and that the men and women of the police department and the people of Kaua’i will be put first.

The chief is under heavy fire. Recently, leaders of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), the union that represents police officers across the state, called for Lum’s resignation, and Baptiste more recently called for the chief to resign.

Members of the county’s Police Commission are expected to take up the mayor’s request at their Feb. 24 meeting.

The five-member commission hires and fires the police chief.

In other action relating to the department, KPD Assistant Chief Clayton Arinaga fired off a lawsuit last week, alleging that he was retaliated against by Lum and others under the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.

Additionally, on Monday, Lum filed a lawsuit of his own, a federal, civil-rights action alleging race-based discrimination and conspiracy against the mayor, Police Commissioner Leon Gonsalves Jr., members of the County Council and others in county government.

At least one officer-versus-officer lawsuit is also pending.

The mayor pointed out that lawsuits might distract the men and women in blue, and that all efforts should be put behind bringing the department together.

“All the lawsuits will take their own course,” said the mayor.

“But healing the department can be incumbent on the results of any of those, because of regardless of how it ends up, that’s what we have to do first.”

We asked you Can any police chief effectively run the Kauai Police Department? 123 of 176 respondents answered no, while 53 said yes in The Garden Island’s non-scientific online poll.

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