HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A retired Hawaii county police officer has launched a complaint against his ex-boss, Chief of Police Paul Ferreria, because of beefed up traffic enforcement at Mauna Kea. Police have issued 6,585 citations since August 15 according to HPD.
“I believe that the practices of enforcement is merely a guise to debilitate the movement at Mauna Kea,” said Juergen Canda, who served 26 years with the department and opposes the Thirty Meter Telescope.
After arrests in July, police said in court documents they were significantly outnumbered by protesters 10 to 1.
Canda claims HPD has an issue with manpower so they’re using traffic enforcement on Daniel K Inouye Highway to reduce the numbers.
In his complaint to the Hawaii County police commission, Canda accused his former boss and the department of a 'tactical military style operation', 'institutionalized police misconduct', and 'racially discriminatory harassment tactics.'
"What I've seen is this tactic of enforcement is being used to whittle that number and whither that support," said Canda.
"Since it is a complaint filed against me with the Hawaii Police Commission, it will be addressed in that venue. The only comment I have is that Mr. Canda is a retired Sergeant, not a Lieutenant, and that the complaint is without merit," said Ferreira in a statement.
Canda was a lieutenant in Waimea during the 2015 anti-TMT protest. He says he provided security at the courthouse and advice to the astronomy community. He says he voluntarily took a demotion to sergeant about a year before retiring in 2018 to be closer to his Puna home.
In addition to the thousands of citations, police arrested 62 people for 121 offenses. Citations including speeding, lack of seat belts and no license plate. Arrests included warrants, drugs and excessive speed.
"The effort will continue for the duration of the ongoing protest situation to promote safety of motorists and pedestrians alike," said HPD in a statement.
Despite his complaint, Canda says Hawaii police officers have been put in an unfair position.
“It undermines their mission. It also puts them at risk,” he said.