Kauai police
audit is urged

The chief is grilled by the
Council on high overtime costs

LIHUE » The Kauai Police Department will likely face a performance audit, thanks to a $321,628 budget overrun and questions from the County Council.


K.C. Lum: The police chief agrees to oversee spending more closely

Kauai Police Chief K.C. Lum spent nearly three hours yesterday fielding questions and hearing suggestions from Council members, who agreed that an audit is needed.

"This is not a blame game; this is a learning experience," Lum said after the Council committee meeting. "I think everyone has learned quite a bit today: that we should work together to make sure this mistake won't happen again."

But Council members were a little quicker to point out who they thought was responsible for the budget shortfall.

Councilman James Tokioka said he was waiting for Lum to take the blame, but that did not happen.

"I'm not going to hear what I want to hear," he said, "that (the chief would say) 'We did something wrong. I take responsibility. Here's what we're going to do to (correct) it.'"

Most Council members were also waiting to hear specifically how Lum would alleviate the situation for this fiscal year, namely by cutting overtime, the culprit for nearly all of the shortfall.

The Police Department is already way over its overtime budget this year, Councilwoman Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho noted, citing a letter from the Finance Department to the chief.

"I believe the overtime issue is out of control," said Councilman Mel Rapozo. "The only solution is the performance audit."

Lum agreed that he was responsible for some of the problems that caused the budget shortfall, and he said he supported the proposed audit of the department.

However, despite repeated questioning, he would not go into specific ways to cut the overtime costs in his department.

He said his bureau chiefs had been responsible for coming up with ways to reduce spending, but that is going to change.

Lum said he would now take a more hands-on approach to overtime and elicit suggestions from members of the department on how to cut what is unnecessary.

Much of the overtime has been caused by vacancies within the Police Department, including in the cellblock.

With limited staffing, police officers working on their days off and covering the cellblock account for 45 percent of the overtime in patrol, the largest bureau and the source of most of the overtime, said Assistant Police Chief Clay Arinaga.

While Council members came up with suggestions to help move people around to curtail overtime, they agreed it is ultimately up to the chief to change his department's policy and avoid another grilling by the Council next year.

County of Kauai

| | |
E-mail to City Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com