Former Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu won’t be disciplined for a November hit-and-run incident and should also retire in good standing after serving as a police officer for more than 35 years, the Maui Police Commission decided Tuesday.

The commission’s 8-1 vote comes after an investigation into Faaumu’s collision with a parked motorcycle as well as an evaluation of the former chief that suggested he needed to improve his job performance.

“He was planning on retiring over a year ago but due to COVID-19 he was asked to stay on through these unsure waters that we were in,” Commissioner Janet Kuwahara said. “I just think, sometimes, we’re reading too much into these other things.”

The vote on Tuesday also paves the way for Faaumu, who retired May 1, to collect additional retirement benefits. State law requires employees to retire in good standing in order to credit unused sick leave to their years of service.

Commissioner Mark Redeker cast the lone “no” vote on the commission’s decision Tuesday.

Maui Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu won’t be disciplined for a hit-and-run incident in November. YouTube.com

In Redeker’s view, Faaumu should have notified the police commission of the incident. He said that he did not, according to the commission’s report on the hit-and-run incident. Redeker also contends that Maui police officers and their supervisors did not follow department policy while investigating the incident.

He pointed to a section of the report in which police supervisors instructed officers who responded to the hit-and-run incident to initiate the case as a civil matter instead of a criminal case.

“The chief of police we looked at, and for all intents and purposes, maybe not a whole lot happened with him. But all of his subordinates started doing shenanigans, and doing other things. This is like the proverbial mailbox from Honolulu,” Redeker said, referencing the corruption case involving former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine.

Redeker called for the commissioners to charge Faaumu with nonfeasance for failing to report the incident. The other commissioners declined to take up his suggestion.

The Maui commissioners also asked Maui County Corporation Counsel to provide unredacted copies of the hit-and-run investigation. The reports provided to the public as well as the commissioners by the county’s legal office withheld the names of police officers.

Even if the Maui commissioners had been inclined to sanction Faaumu, it doesn’t appear they could do anything.

Jennifer Oana, the deputy corporation counsel assigned to the commission, warned commissioners that if they filed charges against Faaumu, it would result in a contested case hearing with the former chief. And if the commission is successful in that process, Oana said, it would still only be able to discipline or dismiss the chief.

“At the end of all this, there is nothing the commission can do with regard to disciplinary action or filing charges,” Oana said. “It’s my opinion you lack authority to take disciplinary action.”

Stacey Moniz, a commissioner, said the commission should hold police officers and the police chief to a higher standard, but supported allowing Faaumu to retire in good standing.

“I just wish there wasn’t this cloud hanging over 35 years (of service) for something so manini that could have been easily handled,” Moniz said.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

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