Lieutenant in alleged OT scam was previously fired by HPD

Published: Jun. 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 11, 2012 at 10:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A Honolulu Police Department lieutenant in charge of a police team that's accused of drinking on the job while being paid overtime was fired by HPD for a previous incident and later got his job back, sources said.

HPD said six of its plain clothes officers were paid overtime through a federal grant to work on an underage drinking enforcement operation when the incident happened last month.  The patrol officers work in HPD's district one, which encompasses urban Honolulu.

After completing the work in six hours on evening, the officers spent another two hours drinking between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. at Side Street Inn, a popular restaurant-bar off Pensacola Street near Ala Moana Center, sources said.

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HPD has opened criminal and administrative investigations into whether the officers were paid overtime for the two hours they were drinking and eating instead of working. Police detectives have interviewed Side Street Inn employees and told them they might need to testify in court, a source said.

An HPD spokeswoman said the lieutenant, sergeant and four officers had their guns and badges taken away last month. All six have been recalled from the field and re-assigned to desk duty, with their police powers restricted while the investigations are underway, the HPD spokeswoman said.

The man in charge of the special enforcement team was Lt. Randall Arakaki, a 28-year HPD veteran, according to sources familiar with the case.

A sergeant and four other officers under Arakaki have told superiors Arakaki approved overtime for the drinking escapade at Side Street Inn, sources said.

Arakaki was previously fired by the police department for wrongdoing of a different sort, but he successfully challenged his firing, was reinstated and awarded back pay, sources said.

Since individual police discipline cases are secret, it's not known why Arakaki was terminated previously.

Police sources said this is a frustratingly familiar episode, because they said HPD troublemakers get disciplined and even fired for wrongdoing, and then sometimes are reinstated only to get in trouble again, as in this case.

Police union lawyers are sometimes able to convince arbitrators that officers' terminations were unfair because HPD failed to follow proper procedures, didn't document cases against officers correctly or didn't follow union disciplinary rules, according to people familiar with police arbitration cases.

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Other police managers said they felt that city lawyers don't defend some police firings aggressively enough, allowing attorneys hired by the officers or their union to dominate arbitration hearings.

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