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Kauai Police Chief Apologizes, Union Calls for Resignation

Casey Harlow / HPR

LIHUE — Kauai's police chief has apologized after a discrimination investigation found he mocked people of Asian descent.

Kauai Police Chief Todd Raybuck, speaking in a video posted on social media, said his comments were "insensitive and improper as the chief of police,” The Garden Island newspaper reported this week.

“In hindsight, I recognize regardless of my intent, my words have caused people pain,” Raybuck said in the statement. “I look forward to the opportunity to apologize directly to those who have been hurt by my words and I hope that we may repair our relationships moving forward.”

The investigation by the Kauai Police Commission found Raybuck violated county discrimination policies and created a hostile work environment for an officer based on race.

Both are cause for “appropriate corrective action,” said a Feb. 26 letter written by commission chair Catherine Adams that was obtained by the newspaper.

Raybuck said he respects the findings of the Police Commission investigation and will accept any disciplinary action.

Raybuck, hired in 2019, said he has sought guidance and professional assistance over the last few months “to respond better to difficult situations, and I’m committed to the work that I’ve begun to improve myself and my relationships with others.”

“I’ve made my mistakes, but I’ve always looked to learn from them and done my best to get better and not repeat them,” Raybuck said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said the allegations don't reflect the police chief he knows and works closely with.

The mayor said he felt “a deep obligation” to forgive if the allegations turned out to be true. They wouldn't affect his ability to work with Raybuck, Kawakami said.

But the police union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, called for Raybuck’s resignation.

“These charges and findings involving blatant racism is appalling and will not be tolerated by SHOPO and our rank-and-file officers,” the union said in a statement.

The Kauai Police commission received an internal complaint against Raybuck in September. The investigation found two incidents that year, on July 29 and Nov. 13, violated the county’s discrimination policy, according to Adams’ letter.

In one case, Raybuck “squinted his eyes” and bowed his head while mimicking someone with a Japanese accent, the investigation found.

In another incident, Raybuck relayed a story of meeting someone of Asian descent in a restaurant in which he parodied the person’s speech and mannerisms.

The complaint said the chief laughed and thought his demonstration was funny.

Raybuck became the Kauai police chief in 2019, following his retirement after nearly 27 years from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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