The state Department of Land and Natural Resources chief law enforcement officer Robert Farrell has been trying to beef up conservation enforcement.
He's pushed for new tools like faster watercraft and smart phone apps to make reporting ocean violations, animal poaching, and illegal commercial activity easier.
But some say a recent email rant he sent to 100 officers went overboard.
"There are officers that are carrying the load for all of DOCARE. There are officers that are sitting on the fence," he wrote in the Feb. 12 email.
"And there are officers that are hoping to bring DOCARE down in flames for their own personal agendas."
The email goes on:
"I have heard we are 'corrupt, second chancers and retired in place ... It is absolutely true for some of you," he wrote.
The statements were so insulting to some officers who complained to their union, which criticized Farrell as unprofessional.
"He makes assumptions and accuses his own staff of not having a moral compass … and tells his staff to take a 'long hard look at the mirror and tell yourself you are living Pono,'" wrote Joy Kuwabara, a field services officer for the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
"We suggest he take another look at the email he sent out to all employees and read it from an employee's perspective, how would he feel receiving this?"
State Senator Will Espero described the letter as "boneheaded" and that Farrell's rant only makes morale problems at DOCARE worse.
"It really does show that this is an agency with some problems and some dysfunction and now he's allowed it to possibly go viral," said Espero, (D) Ewa Beach.
Since taking over as head of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement a year ago, Farrell also has pushed for changes like increased night and weekend patrols, and new training programs for field officers and supervisors and more stringent background checks for new hires.
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case issued this statement:
"DOCARE Chief Farrell has my complete support in his continuing efforts to transform our state's conservation law enforcement agency into a highly professional division," Case said.