Ching resigns, 3 vote to charge Lum

LIHU’E — The county’s police commissioners voted Thursday to charge Kaua’i Police Department Chief K.C. Lum with not adequately carrying out the duties of his office, for not leading an effective police department, and with not adequately managing and controlling employees.

Commission members came up with the three charges after going into executive session for almost two hours at a special Police Commission meeting at the historic County Building council chambers in Lihu’e.

A copy of the charges will be given to Lum, and a hearing will be set in the future. Lum will be given at least 15 days’ notice of the hearing.

Commissioners Leon Gonsalves, Vice Chairman Russell Grady and Thomas Iannucci voted in favor of the charges. Chairwoman Carol Furtado voted against bringing the charges.

Commissioner Michael Ching was not at the meeting. Furtado read a letter from Ching indicating that he has resigned from the commission, effective immediately.

Furtado said that it was unfortunate did not say why he resigned.

Ching did not return calls seeking comment.

Ching was not at a special commission meeting March 15 to discuss the removal process of the chief. He had e-mailed Furtado ahead of time, and wrote a request to be recused from commission action involving the chief’s removal.

In the e-mail, he wrote that the commission members have 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.

He further wrote that islanders deserve to be heard and served in an objective and unbiased process.

Along with the charges at yesterday’s meeting, all the commissioners voted to hold a hearing on the eligibility of each one of them to participate in the removal process.

Before that vote was taken, Furtado said that she believed that an eligibility hearing is a necessary part of the process.

“Therefore, I will be supporting this motion,” she said.

A date for that hearing has not been set.

Before the commissioners closed the doors, Lum wanted to know what the commissioners’ definition of cause for removal was going to be.

“Because that may be very important in future litigation,” he said.

He pointed out that he may subpoena officials for the minutes of the executive session they were about to convene.

None of the commissioners commented on what Lum asked.

Kapahi resident Paul Donald Lemke said that Lum “is the best chief of police we’ve ever had on this island.”

Lemke said he supplements his cattle-ranching business by providing affordable-housing rentals. He said that he has had problems with drug addicts and dealers in the past.

Since the chief has been in office, Lemke said he has seen a noticeable change in the caliber of people who are renting.

“All this is due to the chief of police and his officers,” said Lemke.

He urged the commissioners to think twice before going through the process of removing Lum.

“He’s out there catching crooks,” said Lemke.

Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste called for Lum’s resignation Jan. 31. He was not available for comment about Ching’s resignation or the latest charges by the commission.

Under the County Charter, the five commissioners are appointed by the mayor with the approval of members of the County Council.

In his amended federal lawsuit, Lum claimed that, between December 2004 and April 2005, the council members held meetings about appointments and re-appointments to the commission.

Lum claims that, during those council meetings he attended, the focus of the council’s questioning was to find reasons to dismiss all the commissioners who had voted in favor of appointing Lum police chief in September 2004.

The monthly regular Police Commission meeting is set for today in the County Council chambers at the historic County Building. The commission’s open session starts at 1:30 p.m.

Lum’s petition to exclude Gonsalves from taking part in removal action is among the items on today’s agenda.

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