Baptiste wants police chief fired
Kauai's mayor sends his request to the county Police Commission as Lum vows to stick it out
Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste asked the county Police Commission yesterday to fire Police Chief K.C. Lum, who in turn said he hoped to be judged fairly by the five-member board.
"I hope the Police Commission will look at the situation objectively, and make a decision favorable to the future of the Kauai Police Department and the community," Lum told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Lum, a 22-year veteran at the department who became chief in December 2004, declined to comment any further, but said he would demand a contested hearing if the commission fires him.
Baptiste sent a letter to the Police Commission, saying he had lost confidence in Lum's ability to provide a "functional, supportive and cohesive" work environment at the department.
"I have made numerous requests of Chief Lum to improve and increase communications with the Mayor's Office," Baptiste said, "but have seen no evidence of that happening."
The announcement follows more than a year of complaints from union leaders who say Lum lowered morale in the department with poor leadership and communication skills. In November, the Kauai County Council authorized an investigation of the island's Police Department, Lum and the commission amid budget overruns.
But the mayor's letter also came less than a week after Lum and the union met before the commission and agreed to work out their differences, according to Carol Furtado, commission chairwoman, who was surprised with Baptiste's request.
"There was some hope for the community to move this forward," said Furtado, a three-year commissioner who voted for Lum's appointment. "And right after that, we get this letter from the mayor."
Furtado said the five commissioners, who are appointed by the mayor with approval of the County Council, had not yet met to discuss whether to take action at their next meeting, Feb. 24.
"There has to be an investigation of these so-called charges," she said, adding that there has always been "factions within the department," even before Lum.
"We have had this issue, to my knowledge, for the last three or four chiefs," Furtado said. "It has not gotten any better."