Kauai police chief, union reach truce
Lum acknowledges morale problems, while the union plans a survey similar to Honolulu’s
LIHUE » Kauai Police Chief K.C. Lum and members of the police union have agreed to put an end to 16 months of bitter infighting.
State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers Chapter Chairman Bryson Ponce told the Kauai Police Commission yesterday that he met with the embattled chief twice this week, and they have come to an agreement.
"We want to move forward and put things behind us," Ponce said. "We've got to be honest with each other."
SHOPO had asked the commission for time during yesterday's meeting to discuss police morale and grievances.
The Kauai Police Department has been bitterly divided over Lum's rise to chief since October 2004. His detractors point to the rise in union complaints, his lack of communication with rank-and-file officers and his lack of leadership leading to budget problems, as well as his ignorance of the collective-bargaining agreement.
While police officers describe morale as at an all-time low, Lum has ignored the problem and acted as if things are fine, his detractors say.
But Ponce said his meetings were helpful.
"I've heard the chief acknowledge ... problems exist in the department," Ponce said.
Lum acknowledged that there are morale problems within the department, but "I've yet to see any organization that can say morale is not an issue."
He also acknowledged that he also made mistakes when responding to union grievances, "and we have learned from it," Lum said.
Now, the chief said, it comes down to the future. In his stated goals for the next year, Lum said "team building," more leadership training for supervisors and the creation of an internal affairs department are his priorities.
"We've got to try to unite the entire department," Lum added.
Ponce added that "effective two-way communication" has been the biggest problem, and further meetings are needed.
"This is a starting point, not a resolution," Ponce added.
Ponce was flanked by statewide SHOPO President Tenari Maafala, who flew in for the meeting, and Kauai Vice Chairman Lt. Roy Asher.
Maafala said a survey will go out to all members Tuesday, similar to the Honolulu Police Department's survey in December, that will get some answers on leadership, morale and communication.
In the Honolulu survey released in December, SHOPO members issued a scathing criticism of Police Chief Boisse Correa in such areas as communications, fairness and support.
Meanwhile, the County Council is also expected to start an investigation into Lum's leadership, including the lack of morale in the department, the increase in union grievances and civilian complaints, and last year's budget overrun.
There is no word yet on when that investigation might get started, but councilmembers have asked the chief to be present at next Thursday's Council committee meeting to discuss his goals for the coming year.