Lawmakers react to news of state sheriff's ouster

Sen. Will Espero
Sen. Will Espero
Rep. Faye Hanohano
Rep. Faye Hanohano

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - There's a shake-up at the state Sheriff Division. On Friday, word quickly spread that Hawaii's sheriff has been bounced from his post.

The state Department of Public Safety says Sheriff John Lum is still on the payroll. But several people tell us he's no longer the sheriff, and that it wasn't his choice to leave.

We're told state Sheriff John Lum spent the morning cleaning out his office at Pier 20. Out front, his parking stall is empty.

"I was surprised when I heard that he was being replaced," Sen. Will Espero, Senate Public Safety Committee chair, said.

Since 2005, Lum has led a division that carries out law enforcement services statewide. The sheriff's deputies serve arrest warrants, provide security at courthouses, and perform other duties.

"From my perspective, Sheriff Lum has been very professional," Espero said. "He is a strong, qualified leader and I believe the division was moving in the proper direction under his guidance."

But we're told his contract is not being extended.

"John Lum is still employed by the Department of Public Safety," Louise Kim McCoy, department spokesperson, said. "Because this is a personnel matter, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time."

This comes as state lawmakers seek a financial and management audit of the Sheriff Division.

"It's just coincidental that this is in the works," Rep. Faye Hanohano, House Public Safety Committee chair, said. "We just want an audit to see where the Sheriff Department would be best placed, if the department really needs to have that many people to, I mean, just looking at all the different economic measures."

"We are looking at positions within the Department of Public Safety," Espero said. "So I don't know if they're doing their own little internal reorganization of people."

Of course, no word yet on who the next sheriff will be. But already, several names are floating around.