Maui police officer turns into social media star

Maui police officer turns into social media star
Published: Jul. 10, 2013 at 10:47 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 11, 2013 at 12:53 AM HST
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Maui Police Officer Keith Taguma
Maui Police Officer Keith Taguma
Tom Kelleher
Tom Kelleher

WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui police officer is now a social media sensation. Officer Keith Taguma is well-known for ticketing drivers for everything from speeding to expired parking meters. The "TAGUMAWatch" Facebook page has already racked up more than 5,900 "likes" in just four days. The site is filled with stories from drivers who have been ticketed by Taguma for speeding, not buckling up, even having tint that is too dark. People are also snapping photos of him.

"It's interesting because it's funny. I can see why people like it, why it draws people. It's sort of a novelty. Let's keep an eye on this officer. Little bit of an inside joke there in the Maui community," said professor Tom Kelleher, chair of UH Manoa's School of Communications.

Officer Taguma patrols the Wailuku area. In 1985, he was shot with his own gun during a struggle after pulling a man over. These days he is a familiar figure out on the roads. Maui Built even sold "Taguma Got Me" t-shirts and stickers until the company was forced to stop.

Some negative Facebook comments accused Taguma of being on a power trip or enjoying his job too much. Other people praised him for keeping streets safe and doing his job. The TAGUMAWatch creators said they know him and have been ticketed by him, but the page isn't meant to be malicious. They posted this message: "We have nothing but LOVE for Officer Taguma. He's FAMOUS and INFAMOUS all at the same time... a local celebrity. We're not here to defame him."

"I do get the sense that whoever is organizing the page is managing it in a way that encourages it to be a positive thing, not just a negative thing for the haters," said Kelleher.

People are also using the page to post photos of speed traps, car crashes and brush fires. Technology is changing. Mobile phone apps like Waze and Trapster now allow users to update others on police sightings, traffic and construction work.

The TAGUMAWatch creators are surprised by the page's popularity. Love him or hate him, Officer Taguma is a legend on Maui.

"In a sense it might make him more effective. If his job is for people to be cautious on the roadways, it may be helping him out. In a sense, he might be getting the last laugh," said Kelleher.

The Maui Police Department is aware of the page, but declined to comment. Hawaii News Now also tried reaching out to Officer Taguma.

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