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VOICES: Chief deserves forgiveness; incidents are teaching moments

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.

10 Comments
  1. Imua44 March 28, 2021 7:02 am Reply

    KPD Blue was 90 percent fiction..
    I know. Mr Sommers just wanted money


  2. Support our Police Chief March 28, 2021 10:39 am Reply

    We people of Kauai should thank our lucky stars for getting the leadership and dedication of an experienced professional such as Chief Raybuck! Having witnessed his respectful rapport with his men and women officers and his concern for the safety and well being of our community I fully stand behind this man. Personnel issues aside and the motives of others should not taint this mans integrity and dedication to Kauai.


  3. Joe Public March 28, 2021 10:53 am Reply

    Right!! He should be fired and sent back to Vegas. They loved it when they got him out of there.


    1. truth be known April 2, 2021 1:34 pm Reply

      He must have been stepping on some corrupt people’s toes in Las Vegas. Being an incorruptible police officer in a city run by the mafia is a tough job indeed. Perhaps here in Kauai he has also stepped on some “good ‘ole boys’ toes” as well, thus precipitating the immediate “fire him” response from an organization (SHOPO) known to protect and non-disclose police wrongdoing. Let’s give him a chance to see if he’s learned his lesson.


  4. USAF Brat March 28, 2021 5:32 pm Reply

    imua 44 wouldnt know the lie he tries to assert. Only WE who lived it knows the facts as opposed to those that are still ‘woke’. You or anyone like you Can no longer hide fifty years of truth that Mr. Sommers knew first hand as do we.


  5. Pahoa March 29, 2021 3:31 am Reply

    I think Chief Raybuck got too comfortable, a little too quick. Because he’s done a good job thus far, and been active in the community, led an effort to make the police force more accessible to residents, while he’s been welcomed much more readily than most white guys from the mainland would have been. He thought he was just one of the guys, f$&@ing around, makin jokes.
    While his words were unacceptable, especially in that setting, I’ve personally heard worse from more than one KPD officer, and long before Raybuck was on the scene. Also, I don’t think I’ve seen a more sincerely contrite apology video in my life. I thought the poor guy was gonna burst into tears. The kicker for me was when SHOPO called for his resignation, almost immediately. SHOPO has backed cops accused of spousal abuse, sexual assault, fraud, DUI, extortion, you name it. And SHOPO continues to fight the release of disciplinary records, even on the heels of one of the biggest police corruption cases our little state has ever seen. But they immediately call for Raybuck’s resignation? Why does SHOPO want Raybuck out so badly? Perhaps he’s doing something a little too “right,” hmmmm?


    1. LMat March 30, 2021 8:18 am Reply

      AGREE. Some ill-thought out words are what’s going to make SHOPO throw up their arms…?!! Really?!! They’ve stood silently by for FAR worse. What a joke.


  6. USAF Brat March 29, 2021 5:51 am Reply

    Imua44…actually 100% of KPD Blue index of names didnt realize that we the people that were
    Wilcox Hospital associates or frequently worked side-by-side with this circus orgnization community, medpro, judiciopolitico hierarchy, as well as through ‘Central Answering Services’ that the level of corruption was and has been outlined and confirmed non-fiction to this day. Read book by Benish, called The Fifth Seal. It outlines many related victims that the same KPD Blue roster included as well as retroactively all the same blundering fools. We are paying attention more than ever, since that book was published, and TGI is guilty of bias that has entrenched Everyone awakened in the mess that was facillitated therein, because they were “mo big” and did not understand that they were being observed carrying on positioning behaviors that have continued to this day! Similar if not exactly like the Kealoha power couple or team Obama. Talk about KingPins as opposed to pin heads! God Bless Lacy Woolsey raped and murdered at Anini and the wrong brother got his okole pinned to the donkey.


  7. Joe Public March 29, 2021 12:28 pm Reply

    Tell that to the Asian Americans that were held in internment camps. Or about the Jewish people that dealt genocide.

    Wake up, when will it end?


  8. kamani March 29, 2021 3:19 pm Reply

    On the County of Kauai’s website, Kauai Police Department’s first mission statement is Respect – We acknowledge and accept our individual differences and unique cultural diversity, and promise to treat each other and everyone we serve with dignity and respect. If the Chief of Kauai PD can’t make it past the first mission statement, how can he ever make it to the second mission statement; Integrity?


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