The Kauai County Police Commission voted Friday to hold off on acting on police chief K.C. Lum’s petition to exclude commissioner Leon Gonsalves’ involvement in removing the chief.
The commissioners decided to take up Lum’s petition on the date that an eligibility hearing will be held to find out if each commissioner may participate in the removal process. The date for that hearing has not been set.
All four commissioners voted in favor of holding off on chief Lum’s petition.
Lum pointed out to the commissioners that he will be on an extended vacation starting April 15 to June 1. He indicated that the petition will have to be taken up after he returns from vacation.
The Police Commission is down to four members.
Michael Ching resigned from the commission Thursday. In a statement faxed to The Garden Island, Ching said that he reluctantly resigned from the commission “due to the political forces that currently appear to strongly influence the commission’s actions and decisions.”
He further wrote that he believed that he has been caught in “the crossfire of those who opposed the appointment of chief Lum and want him removed.”
Lum was named police chief in September 2004.
In February, the county’s Ethics Board determined that Ching violated the county’s Code of Ethics by using his position to secure an advantage for Lum over the other candidates who were running for police chief.
The board also determined that Ching actively solicited support for Lum from the union that represents police officers across the state, thereby giving Lum an unfair advantage in the selection process to find a police chief.
On March 8, Ching asked that the board reconsider its findings. That request was turned down Thursday.
Based on the board’s findings, the board recommended that the County Council cancel Lum’s contract. That recommendation was sent over to the council Thursday.
The five police commissioners are appointed by the mayor with the approval of the council.
In an e-mail from county Public Information Officer Mary Daubert states, Mayor Bryan Baptiste does not necessarily have to appoint another commissioner to replace Ching in order for the commission to move forward.
Daubert states that the mayor is reviewing a list of candidates.
Additionally, she said in the e-mail, three commissioners must vote to remove the chief.
Chief Lum is not taking all of the developments sitting down. Lum filed Thursday in federal court in Honolulu for a preliminary injunction against commissioner Gonsalves and the mayor from taking any action to remove him as chief.
In the filing, Lum asked the court to intervene and maintain his status quo as police chief while his federal discrimination lawsuit is ongoing.
He also asked for court intervention so that the public will continue to have a positive perception of the police department and its efforts towards public safety.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 256) or firstname.lastname@example.org