Maui Police Department, despite many outstanding officers, has a past of bad administration that has gotten the department in hot water with the courts. It looks like the Police Commission has no taste for changing this.
When Chief Gary Yabuta retired July 30, 2014, residents were optimistic that the Police Commission would appoint an educated chief dedicated to cleaning up the corruption in the department. Corruption and bad judgement that includes:
- Using police funds and personnel to lobby citizens against legalizing marijuana. (Ironically Yabuta announced he’d be taking a job as Director of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) for Hawaii upon retirement from MPD)
- Creating a policy (successfully overthrown by the courts) prohibiting sign holding by protestors. In fact, the Deputy Chief who created the policy violating the First Amendment right of demonstrators is in the running for Chief.
- Putting an alleged sexual harasser in charge of the Sexual Harassment Policy.
- Allegedly assaulting and arresting Maui Time publisher Tommy Russo for videoing police.
- Using excessive force in a drug bust to the wrong house.
- Covering up disciplinary actions against officers
- Attempting to squelch the First Amendment right of a County employee discussing an officer
- Not recognizing that one of their officers was running a scam and on meth
- Allowing officer Nelson Johnson to run wild for years (including killing a car thief) before finally firing him
- Losing in court over restricting a right to hand out religious pamphlets on the sidewalk (a double whammy on the First Amendment)
- Being sued for age discrimination. (This was someone with a college degree — apparently this counts against applicants possibly even more than age.)
- Arming themselves with a military assault vehicle.
- Dropping the ball on a near-fatal attack at Paia Beach Park allegedly because it involved a relative of a high ranking MPD member.
- Maui Police Department officer Lewis Gamble sexually assaulted a member of the public
- Ryan Masada, an 18-year police veteran arrested for dealing meth.
- Covering up a serious of killings including ignoring the young man who, they say, “accidentally walked over a cliff” during a Polipoli rave despite the physician who saw him saying his face had been “kicked in”. This was after another incident near Pawela Lighthouse where a young person was “accidentally” run over and killed during a similar rave.
- Officer Kristopher Galon plead guilty in U.S. District Court to stealing money during a traffic stop and extorting sex from a woman.
- Officer Steven Gunderson, plead guilty to charges of theft and evidence tampering on this.
- Officer James Mateaki was involved in a meth import ring, used MPD resources to strong arm debt collection by the drug dealer.
Hopes were high that the new police chief would clean house and make MPD a safer place both for the officers who fear retribution for reporting irregularities and for the public who is concerned about bias in the department.
Hopefully the Maui public will show up at the Maui Police Commission Meeting 9:30am August 20 at the police building in Wailuku to ask these questions:
- Are there any police chief candidates with college degrees being considered?
- If not, doesn’t Maui deserve better than a high school graduate running our police department?
- Is one of the candidates for police chief behind all the MPD violations of people’s First Amendment rights who landed the county in a lawsuit (which we lost)?
- If so, why hasn’t he been eliminated?
- Are the candidates free of sexual harassment allegations?
- If not why hasn’t that candidate been eliminated?
- What are the candidates’ stands on marijuana? Can we get someone who concentrates on REAL crimes instead of a #ReeferMadness