The Kaua‘i police chief is under fire for biased behavior and comments towards Japanese people and culture.
The Kaua‘i Police Commission has found that the chief created a hostile work environment for an officer based on race.
The State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers is calling for his immediate resignation, and on social media the public reaction is mixed.
One thing for sure, there is no excuse for the comments and actions Chief Raybuck made on July 29 and Nov. 13, 2020. I’m also sure no one reading this letter has ever made a mistake, told a stupid joke, offended anyone or wished they hadn’t said something…wait…you did? So did I.
As a human resource director of mid-sized companies between 26 to 50 employees and an executive director of small, nonprofit organizations, I have seen my share of complaints and been involved with my share of investigations.
In each case, there was usually a finding that the employee said or did something wrong, and in each case the severity of the offence was responded to appropriately, and almost always we sent the employee to classes such as cultural-sensitivity training or sexual-harassment-prevention training.
Years later, some of those employees are now directors in large companies, and in those cases the measures taken made us a better company and the employee a better leader.
Many responses in the community have been that in high-profile positions we must hold our officials to higher standards. I agree with that sentiment. Chief Raybuck has done an excellent job, which should also not be overlooked.
Kaua‘i historically has had issues with its police department. Many long-term residents recount stories and events from the past that depict less-than-honorable behavior by our officers.
Everyone talks about the book “KPD Blue” as a sad part of Kaua‘i’s history. For those who know Chief Raybuck, almost everyone agrees he is a good, honest man, and a good chief of police.
He has brought a sense of stability and professionalism to the KPD. He engages with the community and has wholeheartedly adopted Kaua‘i as his family’s home. Most importantly, the chief acknowledges his error in judgment and regrets that his words and actions were hurtful.
Perhaps we should look at Chief Raybuck’s comments and behavior as a teachable moment for the chief and take a harder look at race relations on Kaua‘i in general.
Racism is ugly. Kaua‘i has a mix of cultures and backgrounds, and sometimes it feels like we don’t necessary “blend” as well as we think we do.
There are divisions in the community, and if we are to grow, we need to come together, recognize our divisions, and find ways to heal and find respect for each other. This is an opportunity for us all to learn and grow as well as our chief of police.
My faith tells me we are all forgiven by God. Can we forgive Chief Raybuck? I believe we should.
As a community, we can use this opportunity to have community dialogs about race and division, and the chief of police and all our leaders should be a part of the discussion.
Calling for the chief’s resignation will do nothing to address the underlying problems of racism, and Kaua‘i will lose a good chief of police. We do need to hold public officials to high standards, as we should ourselves, and always remember — to forgive is divine and to grow and learn is human.
Lawrence Graff is a resident of Kilauea.