Kauai gets another new chief
Clayton Arinaga is promoted by the Police Commission without actually being named
LIHUE » The Kauai Police Department has its third police chief in a little more than a week, with last week's retirement of K.C. Lum and the demotion of his deputy Ron Venneman yesterday by the Kauai Police Commission.
The former third-in-command, Clayton Arinaga, took over as acting chief yesterday in a 4-1 vote during a special meeting of the commission. He will likely remain acting chief until the commission finds a permanent replacement. Two years ago the selection of Lum took a year.
Arinaga, a 30-year veteran and an assistant chief for the past five years, was never directly named chief by the commission. In fact, his name was not even mentioned in the 20-minute portion of the meeting held in public session.
Commissioners instead talked about following the "chain of command" after the departure of Lum and their decision to remove Venneman, who had been the acting chief in Lum's absence, back to the second-in-command post. They then voted that the third-in-command, the assistant chief in charge of the patrol services bureau, would become chief.
By not announcing Arinaga as "interim" chief, the commission also gave him a large boost in pay over his predecessors.
While Lum and Venneman were part of management and exempted from overtime, Arinaga will be able to collect his base salary plus any overtime he accrues, said Commission Chairwoman Carol Furtado, the lone dissenting vote on both the removal of Venneman and the use of "the chain of command."
Commissioner Tom Iannucci said that the chain of command is "the safe way to proceed," removing politics from the decision and protecting the commission from what happened to Michael Ching.
Ching resigned from the commission in March after an ethics investigation found that he helped install Lum as interim chief in 2004, thus giving him preferential treatment over the other candidates for the permanent chief position.
Ching's violations also were the vehicle used for the move to terminate Lum's contract as chief, and led directly to his retirement. They also led to an ethics investigation against Furtado, who supported Lum. The case is pending.
"They have completed the conspiracy," said government watchdog Glenn Mickens after the decision. "Ching's gone, Lum's gone, Venneman's kicked down and Furtado's hanging on by a string."
Venneman's fate as deputy will now be decided by Arinaga, whose feuds with their former boss, Lum, were public knowledge and led to a lawsuit filed by Arinaga against the department.
Last year, Arinaga claimed whistle-blower's violations occurred when he notified Venneman and Lum over the conduct of vice officers who flew over to attend a conference on Maui but then said they were sick. Arinaga claimed nothing was done to punish the officers.
He was later suspended as investigators looked into a 5-year-old allegation of hindering prosecution leveled against Arinaga, when shots were fired at the house of a relative. No charges have been filed in either case, despite lengthy investigations.
Venneman, however, said that he "had a good working relationship" with Arinaga. "I think he and I are in the same mind-set (of the future) of the department," Venneman said.
Arinaga could not be reached for comment.