After just five years as Maui County Police Chief, Gary Yabuta is moving to Oahu to take over as director of a federal anti-drug program. There is, of course, great irony in the fact that Yabuta’s leaving to head some drug war office–What, Maui County’s part in the endless War on Drugs isn’t going so hot?–but the Maui Police Department will have none of that.
“On 05/16/14, Chief of Police Gary YABUTA of the Maui Police Department told his command staff that their success as leaders, coupled with their creativity to fight our community’s crime threats, have made the Chief’s decision to retire an easier one,” stated a May 16 Maui Police press release. “He wants every officer and every civilian worker of the Maui Police Department to know how proud he is of each one of them.”
In the May 17 Maui News, Maui Police Commissioner Roger Dixon was more succinct: “To me, leadership is about people.”
Um, that’s supposed to be a compliment, right? Because saying “leadership is about people” is every bit as informative as saying “history is about the past.”
Seriously, I can’t be the only one in this county who thinks all this is nonsense. By its own admission, the Maui PD is having troubles fighting this nation’s pointless Drug War.
“The importation, distribution, sales, and use of illicit narcotics continue to be a significant problem for Maui County as a whole,” states the department’s 2012 Annual Report, the most recent annual report made available to the public. “Illicit narcotics are often attributed to other crime problems such as thefts, burglaries, assaults, sexual assaults, abuse of family/household members, and others. The division’s goal continues to be the disruption and dismantling of drug trafficking organizations and to intercept illegal drugs prior to the drugs infiltrating our communities.”
Though Yabuta’s been chief for just five years–his predecessor, Tom Phillips, was chief for nearly 11 years–his “leadership,” as Dixon put it, has included the purchase of a giant “Bearcat” armored truck more suitable to Afghanistan than Maui; the whole Allison Moore debacle, in which a decorated Maui cop spent years secretly addicted to methamphetamine while fooling her colleagues (like Yabuta, who gave her more than a thousand dollars worth of his leave time) into thinking her health problems were due to non-existent cancer; and the general criminalization of people–like this paper’s publisher–who attempt to take photographs of Maui Police Officers on duty, in public. Sounds like grounds for a promotion to me!
If, that is, Yabuta’s new job is actually a step up. Starting in July, Yabuta will become Director of the Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which is a federal grant program run out of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The official hiring notice for the position states that the Director salary is “currently $117,237 (including Hawaii locality pay), plus up to 30% fringe benefits and a car allowance.” In terms of salary, this is substantially less than the current Maui Police Chief’s $135,000 a year.
What’s more, the HIDTA Director’s post doesn’t seem to be more than a desk job. “The incumbent is employed through a yearly contract with a HIDTA fiduciary, and serves at the pleasure of the Hawaii Executive Board,” states the Director hiring notice. Job responsibilities include supervising HIDTA staff, directing “development/submission of required reports, budgets and reviews/audits,” representing the Executive Board at meetings and “maintain[ing] a service-oriented office.” Qualifications for the job include a Bachelor’s Degree, a mere 10 years working “within a criminal justice agency/program,” an ability to get a Top Secret Security Clearance and “proficiency with Microsoft Office products to include Word, Access, PowerPoint and Excel.”
Nothing says “leadership” like an ability to use Microsoft PowerPoint.
(Disclosure: MauiTime Owner/Publisher Tommy Russo is currently suing the County of Maui over an alleged assault by a Maui police officer.)