The Kaua’i County Police Commission is moving ahead with the process of firing Kaua’i Police Department Chief K.C. Lum.
At a special meeting yesterday, the commissioners voted 3-1 to continue the process of possibly removing chief Lum as requested by Mayor Bryan Baptiste. Commissioners Leon Gonsalves, Thomas Iannucci and Russell Grady voted “yes.” Commission Chairwoman Carol Furtado voted “no.”
Commissioner Michael Ching was not at the meeting. He e-mailed chairwoman Furtado before the meeting and asked to be recused from commission action involving the chief’s removal.
In the e-mail, Ching wrote that the commission has been caught up in the controversy surrounding the chief, the alleged racial slurs made by Gonsalves, and in the personal attacks made against himself regarding an ethics complaint.
Ching wrote that he has been on the commission for almost six years and has always acted in a professional manner.
He wrote that the perception of being biased must not be allowed, and because of that, asked to be recused.
“The people of Kaua’i deserve to be heard and served in an objective and unbiased process,” wrote Ching.
Chairwoman Furtado said that she would vote “no” before the vote was taken. She feels that not enough time was given to address the healing of the police department before the mayor asked for chief Lum to resign.
After the vote, Iannucci made a motion that the commission continue the process of whether to remove chief Lum by determining if any charges are appropriate.
He also asked that Ho’ike be allowed to video all future open proceedings regarding the chief’s removal if the chief agrees to have the proceedings held in open sessions.
All four members of the commission voted “yes” to approve Iannucci’s motion.
In other business concerning the chief’s possible removal, chairwoman Furtado announced that a process will be developed to consider disqualifying any possibly biased commissioner from participating in the removal process.
The commission may hold a special meeting next Thursday to talk more about the process to possibly fire the chief.
Mayor Baptiste asked the commission Jan. 31 to fire chief Lum because the chief had not brought together an already divided police department.
Chief Lum fired back with a federal discrimination lawsuit Feb. 6. In that lawsuit, Lum claimed that commissioner Gonsalves made racially derogatory remarks via an e-mail that was sent out through the county’s computer system in October 2004.
Lum also claimed in the lawsuit that since he was named chief in October 2004, members of the County Council looked for negative comments from disgruntled police department employees. Lum claimed that those comments were used to discredit him, to the point where on Jan. 31 the mayor called for his removal as chief of police.
Chief Lum also petitioned the commission Feb. 9 to exclude Gonsalves from any commission business that involves removal action. He pointed out that the nature of the petition is to preserve the integrity of the police department and to eliminate the perception of racial bias in the public’s eye.
At its regularly scheduled meeting last month, the commission voted to take up Lum’s petition at its next regularly scheduled monthly meeting. That meeting is set for next Friday.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 256) or email@example.com