LIHUE — Kaua‘i-born Brad “Kipi” Akana is the new Kaua‘i branch chief of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement.
Promoted to his new post on Feb. 3, Akana has 30 years of law-enforcement experience behind him, an understanding of the island, and an understanding of the ever-changing, ever-challenging job of enforcing rules in the wild terrain of Kaua‘i’s state land.
Through the years, DOCARE Chief Robert Jason Redulla has collaborated with Akana on several levels, and expressed confidence in the new chief.
“I’ve known him as a professional in DOCARE, and being his supervisor in the chain of command I’ve gotten to know him pretty well,” Redulla said. “As a professional, he is a pretty exemplary guy. He’s easy to talk to, he’s very mission-oriented, and his goal is to do the best work possible.”
With his new post comes new responsibilities, and one point that Akana will be expected to address in the continued clean-up effort of Kalalau Beach and Kalalau Valley.
According to a recent press release, law-enforcement sweeps resulted in dozens of people criminally cited, and some were arrested after the park was closed for a total of 18 months after the 2018 floods.
Akana plans to tackle this and other issues as he continues to settle into his post.
“I am a community kind of a guy, and I’ve always been in the community,” Akana said. “I want to do a lot more and a lot more meetings with the community.
“Right now we are short on manpower, but we have a lot of guys in our academy. We are tasked with enhancing, conserving, protecting and managing the state’s natural resources,” said Akana.
Redulla expressed confidence in Akana’s ability to lead in the ever-changing landscape of natural resources enforcement.
“One of his powerful traits is his laid-back personality,” Redulla said. “Nothing seems to bother him. He controls his stress, and he has a very laid-back approach as far as his ability to connect with people and work towards accomplishing goals,” Redulla said.
”In my years of knowing Kipi, I’ve never seen him stressed, to be honest with you.”
From starting with roles of quarters as a member of the Kaua‘i Police Department before he turned 21 years old, to dealing with social media, which drastically changed the landscape of law enforcement, Akana has seen a significant evolution in his 25-year career at DOCARE, and a 30-year career in some law-enforcement capacity.
“It is everyone’s kuleana to reach out and protect the resources,” Akana said. “We can’t do it all, and officers can’t do it by themselves. Everyone needs to protect our resources for the future and present generations.”
Redulla said the role has greatly expanded since DOCARE was founded over 40 years ago.
“The role had expanded significantly when you look at when DOCARE was created 40 years ago, because our primary mission was natural resources law enforcement,” Redulla said.
“In many ways, we are doing more traditional police work, and our branch has to take into account the balance on those things because our roles have expanded.”
Redulla feels that Akana, originally from Kaua‘i, will fulfill his role as chief as it continues to evolve.
Akana brings a vast amount of experience to this ever-evolving position, Redulla said.
“Both of his experiences compliment each other, and it does give Kipi a broad range of experience dealing with issues,” Redulla said.
“It is complex to balance everything, because Kaua‘i has the same amount of law enforcement they had 30 years ago. But I am confident Kipi will do a good job. I am proud of him, and he will be a good representative for DOCARE on Kaua‘i.”
Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.