SHOPO releases survey critical of Kauai Police Department and its leadership

A majority of those surveyed pointed to low morale and gave the chief low marks for leadership.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 9:25 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state police union has released a survey showing that the majority of its members have a low opinion of the Kauai Police Department.

SHOPO conducted the survey in August. The union said 113 of its 136 members on the Kauai police force, or more than 80% , responded.

Union leaders said the results were alarming.

“I’ve worked under a few chiefs, and I honestly have to say that this is pretty serious,” said SHOPO Kauai Chapter Chair Kennison Nagahisa. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Nagahisa has been with the Kauai Police Department for 22 years. He said the survey is an accurate reflection of what he’s been hearing.

“Our officers are frustrated over their working conditions and with the leadership of our department, and it was loud and clear in our survey,” he said.

In one of the questions, officers were asked to rate morale in the department on scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. The average rating was 3.58. The union said the overall result should be concerning.

In other results, only 31% felt KPD cared about its officers, and less than 10% felt their opinion was valued by the department.

Those responding also gave low marks to Police Chief Todd Raybuck, with a total positive rating of about 24% and a negative rating near 65%.

The chief was not available for an interview Wednesday, but the department released his response in a video.

“The Kauai Police Department is a great place to work, but it is not a perfect organization,” said Raybuck.

“The concerns raised in the survey present an opportunity to provide better communications and identify solutions to make the police department better,” he said.

SHOPO said it is also concerned about retaining officers. Twenty-seven percent said they would be leaving the department in the next two years.

Raybuck said he has stepped up recruitment efforts since becoming chief in 2019.

“During the last three years, the Kauai Police Department has hired 52 officers, a hiring incraese of 159% compared to the previous three-year period,” he said.

SHOPO said it invited members of the Kauai Police Commission to discuss the survey, but the commission chair instead invited the union to present its findings at its next public meeting Oct. 28.

The union and the chief have already had a one-hour meeting to discuss the results.

“I think we both committed to working together,” said Nagahisa. “Now that we’ve identified some issues, let’s start working on it.”