Yes, kids, it’s true: Maui Police Officer Keith Taguma, a 30-year veteran of the force, will retire this week. Drivers in Wailuku can now rest a bit easier: Taguma’s parking ticket reign of terror is nearly at an end.
Rumors of Taguma’s impending retirement have been flying around Wailuku for months. I even asked Lt. William Juan, the Maui Police spokesman, about it back in November.
“I did not find any documentation of Officer Taguma’s retirement date,” Juan emailed me on Nov. 10. “As of this time, the answer would be no he is not retiring next month.”
Nonetheless, The Maui News reported on Dec. 20 story that Taguma would retire this week. “Taguma dropped by Mayor Alan Arakawa’s office Friday to relay the news, shaking hands and taking pictures with the mayor and his staff, Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said,” the paper reported.
That story, which carried no byline, was strange–even for The Maui News (click here for it, but subscription is required to read it). Half of it deals with the ridiculous TAGUMAWatch complaint earlier this year. The Maui News also buried at the end of the story the 1985 incident (which occurred just three months into his MPD career) in which a man named James Estrada shot Taguma in the stomach with Taguma’s own gun during a traffic stop.
The details are all online, in the 1987 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling of State v. Estrada, which you can read here. Here’s an excerpt:
The preliminary facts are not disputed. Officer Taguma was a receiving desk officer working the night shift at the Wailuku, Maui police station. In the early morning hours of June 29, 1985, he was assigned to get breakfast for some other police officers from the Kahului Burger King restaurant. Officer Taguma was in uniform and drove a marked police van. While returning from the Burger King, Officer Taguma stopped the car driven by Estrada. Bayani Gamit (hereinafter “Gamit”) was Estrada’s passenger. Both vehicles parked in the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant parking lot. Officer Taguma and Estrada got into a fight, Officer Taguma was shot with his own gun, and Estrada fled. Later that day, Estrada surrendered. Officer Taguma was treated for severe abdominal injuries at Queen’s Medical Center hospital (hereinafter “Queen’s Hospital”).
Estrada was later convicted of attempted murder (his appeals were ultimately struck down).
But what really matters here is that an era of Wailuku and Maui history is ending. People make jokes about how Taguma was some sort of omniscient specter, seemingly everywhere in Wailuku at the same moment, writing parking ticket after parking ticket to just about everyone. But when you look at the data–at the raw citation numbers provided by the MPD’s own annual reports–it’s clear Taguma was one of the hardest working officers in the department’s history.
“Officer Keith Taguma was the Parking Enforcement Officer for Wailuku in 2013,” states the MPD’s 2013 Annual Report, the most recent one available. “He is responsible for citing traffic violations, as well as making checks on abandoned and derelict vehicles. Officer Taguma issued a total of 6,986 citations, generated 49 incident reports, and made 8 arrests.”
Read that again: In 2013, Taguma wrote 6,986 citations by himself (and that was nothing compared to 2012, when he wrote 7,870 tickets, according to the MPD’s 2012 Annual Report).
In 2013, the 449 officers who make up the Maui Police Department wrote a total of 42,228 citations. That means Taguma himself accounted for 16.5 percent of the department’s entire citation-writing. Hell, Taguma’s 2013 haul was larger than any MPD district–the closest, the 41 officers who staff the Lahaina district, wrote a total of 6,514 citations in 2014. What’s more, Taguma even wrote more citations than the dozen members of the MPD’s Traffic Section put together (they accounted for 6,816 tickets in 2013).
Every year, Taguma wins MauiTime‘s Best Scary Public Official in our annual Best of Maui readers’ poll. Looks like people are going to have to think of someone new next year.
Photo: Tommy Russo