There’s no white smoke pouring out of the Maui Police Department’s Wailuku headquarters, but the Maui Police Commission has nonetheless just elected a new pope–er, police chief–and his name is Tivoli Faaumu. That’s right, kids: the commission opted to go ABC–”anyone but Clayton–and opted to ignore Deputy Chief Clayton Tom (retired Chief Gary Yabuta’s preferred successor) in favor of a lowly captain.
Tom may have had seniority and Yabuta’s blessing, but Faaumu had huge advantage going into the chief’s race, in which 20 or so people applied: according to the Sept. 4 Maui News, he took the time to kiss the ring of the all-powerful police officers’ union:
“Maui police Detective Barry Aoki, speaking as Maui Chapter chairman of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said Faaumu was the only one of the six finalists for the top Maui Police Department job who ‘has reached out to SHOPO for input–asking us what kind of issues and concerns our members have of the department.'”
While Aoki made clear to say that SHOPO wasn’t endorsing anyone in the race, he also described Faaumu as “the leading candidate amongst our members,” according to The Maui News.
Last year, Hana Hou magazine profiled Faaumu, who is also a master sergeant in the Army Reserve. The story leaves no doubt that the current Kihei District captain is a cop’s cop:
“Faaumu’s twenty-eight years in the Maui Police Department have been marked by steady achievements. He was a highly effective vice narcotics investigator and helicopter rappel master who spearheaded numerous marijuana eradication missions. He lobbied the County Council to ban drinking at Kalama Park, effectively snuffing out criminal activity in the area. When a teen cheerleader fell to her death at a local resort in 2004, Faaumu represented his department on national television. In 2011 he was promoted to captain of the Kihei station. Last year he helped launch a mentor program for at-risk youth.”
The notion that Kalama Park is now a crime-free zone is rather funny, but it’s clear that Faaumu’s selection won’t herald some new radical era in the Maui PD. He’s a committed drug warrior who is perfectly acceptable to SHOPO, which means we probably shouldn’t expect him to alter the department’s policies prohibiting the release of the names of officers who’ve been sanctioned by Internal Affairs or who’ve used deadly force in the line of duty.
Of course, this is a tough time for anyone to become chief. The department is still dealing with three high profile missing person cases. It’s recently taken possession of military equipment (including a robot that’s capable of holding a gun) that it doesn’t seem to need, but won’t release written policies governing its use to the public.
We’d like to think Faaumu’s appointment will bring new transparency and accountability to the department, but at this point, that’s just a hope.