Police Union Boss Part Of The Problem

Tenari Ma''afala speaks during a hearing on SB1 (marriage equality act) last November at the Capitol CRAIG T. KOJIMA / STAR-ADVERTISER PHOTO

Tenari Ma”afala speaks during a hearing on SB1 (marriage equality act) last November at the Capitol CRAIG T. KOJIMA / STAR-ADVERTISER PHOTO

I hope most of you readers will agree with this: That was a pathetic attempt by police union president Tenari Maafala to shift blame from his misbehaving Honolulu police officers onto the general public, whom he accuses of “innuendos, misleading information and shameless assumptions.”

If Maafala himself wrote the screed that appeared in the newspaper last week, then he needs to hire a good public relations person to tame him down. If it was written by a public relations person, that person should quickly be fired and replaced.

The SHOPO chief claims that we, the citizens, are fueling “a misguided and vicious rumors mill” about recent police misadventure. And that his cops will “continue to press forward” despite what he calls “negative publicity.”

Negative publicity? Yeah, but it’s also what’s called excellent journalism, holding police misbehavior up for examination. Or is Maafala saying that we should shut up when:

1) An off duty and community-known policeman gets into a bar scuffle that’s called in to the police; the officers arrive, drive the fellow officer home and do not file any report on the incident.

2) A member of the crime-reduction unit slugs and face-kicks people working in a game room and not being arrested or charged with anything, and not resisting police or giving them any guff; and the two other cops stand by and do nothing to stop the slugging and face-kicking.

(3) Most of the domestic-abuse cases reported to police or involving police do not result in an arrest or recommendations for prosecution.

Maafala then goes on to warn against “Unlawful Arrest or Wrongful Termination (his capitalizations) that was prematurely prompted by a knee-jerk reaction, so to speak” of any police officer, which he says might cost us big bucks in a lawsuit.

In other words, you ordinaries keep your mitts off our police. We will handle inquiries, investigations and quietly discipline ourselves and don’t need you butting in.

Then he gets overtly political, saying “Had Mufi (Hannemann) been governor during one of the most passionate and controversial issues in our state’s recent history as a result of the SB1 Same Sex Marriage (his capitalization) issue, the outcome would have been drastically different.”

Remember Maafala on that subject during the Legislature hearings? He’s the one who said he’d rather die than enforce a same-gender marriage law. Of course, there is no law there which requires any kind of police supervision or enforcement, but I guess that escaped Maafala.

He may be right that the things I’ve cited may be isolated incidents, and I agree that the great majority of police follow the law and rules of behavior. But we don’t know how many do not, because so much police misbehavior has been swept under the rug, with names and the nature of discipline hidden from the public.

Trust your county police chiefs to do the right thing, Maafala says.

Sorry, but trust has to be earned, and the many misbehavior cases in the four counties that have leaked out through the secrecy curtain do not give us much of a basis for trust.

Maafala ends by quoting 1st Corinthians: We are to abide in faith, hope and love; but love is the greatest of these.

We’ll have faith in, hope for and love for our police departments only if we have total trust in the way they conduct themselves.

The recent misbehavior incidents and the foot dragging by Honolulu’s police chief Louis Kealoha in particular don’t warrant much trust.