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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Kaua'i chief rejects demotion offer

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

K.C. Lum

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LIHU'E, Kaua'i Police Chief K.C. Lum, who will retire today to avoid being fired tomorrow, turned down an offer to remain with the department at his previous rank of lieutenant.

In a letter to Lum's lawyer by John Komeiji, a private attorney working for the county, the county said it would work to prevent a gap in his employment record, and offered, "if your client is inclined to return to his prior position of lieutenant, please have him make an appointment to see Gary Heu, the Mayor's executive assistant, so they can discuss his re-employment."

Lum declined.

"I chose to retire instead of facing more hostile working environment," Lum said in an e-mail to The Advertiser yesterday.

The county administration made it clear that its decision to terminate Lum was not based on his job performance, but on problems with the Police Commission's appointment of Lum.

However, there have also been questions about Lum's ability to run the department, allegations of favoritism and arguments that he has failed to heal a divided department. Among those calling for investigations of his performance have been the police union, SHOPO, members of the County Council and Mayor Bryan Baptiste.

Baptiste, during a press conference yesterday, said the county administration's decision to cancel Lum's contract was because a hearing officer had concluded that there were improprieties in the process under which the Kaua'i Police Commission appointed Lum to the job.

Baptiste said he concedes that the public may not clearly understand the complicated problems of the Police Department, and may not make the distinction between allegations about Lum and the actual reason for canceling his contract.

The performance allegations, including Baptiste's own demand for his removal on grounds he failed to unify a divided department, are now moot since he is leaving the post, Baptiste said.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com.