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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, July 6, 2003

Whistleblower says he never wanted to sue

 •  Documents shed light on secretive HPD unit
 •  Police chief was aware of problems within elite unit
 •  Key figures in the Kamakana lawsuit

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Detective Kenneth Kamakana was so committed to the Honolulu Police Department that he refused to take the kind of outside work many officers seek to supplement their income.

"I don't believe in it," Kamakana testified under oath in his lawsuit against the city.

"To me, this job should — if you want to do a good job, it is a full-time commitment that in itself takes up enough time," Kamakana said.

The highly decorated officer, commended numerous times by HPD and state and federal law enforcement agencies for his work investigating organized crime and narcotics trafficking cases, said in court documents that he never wanted to sue the department.

"I love the Police Department. Never underestimate that," he told lawyers questioning him about his motives for filing the suit. "It is sad to bring all this about. I just can't believe these kinds of things happen."

He said he was shunned by other officers in the department after he was transferred from the Criminal Intelligence Unit and filed the whistleblower lawsuit.

He lost the respect of his peers, something he cherished, he said.

When he entered the Police Department cafeteria in April last year, he learned "I still can empty a room," Kamakana testified.

"I saw some people, and I knew one of them pretty well. When I sat at the table the one that I knew fairly well just continued talking and the other two abruptly left with their meal," he said.

His car was vandalized in the secure police parking lot, he suffered from insomnia, "my home life isn't all that great," he testified.

"There is not a day goes by that I don't think about my predicament ... At times, I guess, I can be very distraught. I just wish this wouldn't have happened."

Kamakana said his transfer from the elite CIU to the auto theft detail was "probably the worst assignment that I ever had." That is usually a place that nobody wants to go. That and forgery detail or financial investigations."

The workload on auto detail made it very difficult to "thoroughly investigate cases because of the sheer numbers," he said.

"But I made a go of it, anyway. I think I currently hold the record of assigned investigative cases of 116 cases in a month," Kamakana said.

Fellow CIU Detective Tenari Ma'afala, HPD's police officer of the year in 1999 who won the department's gold and silver medals of valor, had high praise for Kamakana.

Ma'afala, who now heads the police officer's labor union, SHOPO, called Kamakana "a go-getter, hard worker, dedicated to his investigations. As far as criminals or suspects, I know if they dealt with Kamakana, they would definitely be afraid if they knew that Kamakana was investigating or coming after them," Ma'afala testified.

"In my opinion, he's a straight-shooter, that in his heart he's as straight as they come."

CIU Detective Alexander Ahlo, who was accused by Kamakana of improper conduct, was asked under oath if he ever saw Kamakana do anything dishonest.

"Yeah," he answered. "I've seen him smoke in our office after hours."