Nearly 20 hoping to become new police chief

Nearly 20 people, including current and retired police officers, have applied to become the next Maui County police chief.

“It is a great number,” Maui Police Commission Chairman Roger Dixon said about the applications the commission received by its deadline last week.

The volunteer commission will select the replacement for Gary Yabuta, who retired July 31 to become director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program in Hawaii. Maui Police Department Deputy Chief Clayton Tom is serving as acting chief until a successor is named.

Dixon said last week that the commission is “still processing” the applications, so the number of qualified applicants may change after reviews are done.

Dixon reiterated that it is not an emergency to fill the spot and no deadline has been set to select a candidate.

“We are going to fill it carefully and in a studied manner. We want to make sure we are going to do it right,” he said

He added that the large number of applicants “can change the dynamic” of the selection process.

He said that the police commission selection committee continually meets to “fine-tune the process” and will vet the applications.

The selection committee will give an update on the selection process at the next commission meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the MPD Chief’s Conference Room in Wailuku.

Dixon said that he will continually place the chief’s selection process on the agenda so the public may provide testimony on the matter to the commission.

The Maui News was able to confirm eight applicants for the job, which pays $135,000 a year. They are:

* Tom, who was tapped by Yabuta to the second-in-command post when Yabuta was appointed to the top job in 2009. He has nearly 32 years in the department. He has served as an assistant chief in charge of the Support Services Bureau and has worked as an officer in the Wailuku and Molokai districts. He was also a narcotics investigator with the department’s Vice Division.

* Victor Ramos, currently an assistant chief with the department. He has 25 years with MPD. He served as acting captain of the Kihei Patrol District before being promoted to captain. As captain, he was commander of the Wailuku Patrol District and has headed Internal Affairs. He also worked as a traffic officer and a detective in the Criminal Investigation Division.

* Tivoli Faaumu, a captain and current commander of the Kihei Patrol District. He has 29 years with MPD and has served as head of Kihei patrol for three years. He has also served as a gambling investigator, narcotics investigator and sergeant in the Vice Division as a well as a detective in the Lahaina Criminal Investigation Division.

* Everett Ferreira, a lieutenant and commander of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Division. He has 35 years with MPD. He is also a part of the MPD Crisis Intervention Team and has spent time as a sergeant in the Lahaina and Kihei patrol districts.

* Larry Hudson, a retired assistant chief of the Support Services Bureau. He is a 33-year MPD veteran. As assistant chief, he headed the Communications, Records, Community Relations, Plans and Training and Information Technology sections, as well as the motor pool and others.

* Bobby Hill, a retired lieutenant with the Traffic Section. He is a 25-year veteran of MPD. He also served as a watch commander in the Wailuku Patrol District and commander of the Communications Section. He was a sergeant in the Wailuku Patrol Desk and Communications Section and a detective investigating property crimes. He currently teaches in University of Hawaii-Maui College’s administration of justice program and owns a security guard training business.

* Paul Winters, a retired captain who headed Internal Affairs. He is a 25-year MPD veteran. He was a commander of the Vice Division and headed the Juvenile Section. As a lieutenant, he was Lanai district commander and also worked as a Wailuku watch commander. He is currently a law enforcement officer at Kahului Airport and has a disaster management preparedness company that also provides training for security guards and management training for government agencies and private companies.

* Mary Wagner, a business continuity plan manager for Maui County’s Department of Management, Information Technology Services division. She has been employed by the Maui and Honolulu police departments and the Joliet Police Department in Illinois, according to her LinkedIn profile. At MPD she was the manger of the information and technology section. At HPD she was an evidence specialist. In Joliet, she was a master police officer.

Some candidates declined to speak to The Maui News, saying it was premature. But among those who did give statements was Tom, who said, “I think I still have a lot to offer.”

While he can retire with 32 years under his belt, Tom said “I still enjoy coming to work.”

Wagner said, “I’m excited about the opportunity. I believe I’m the best fit for the job.”

Faaumu said that his platform includes having the department becoming more transparent, regaining the trust of the community and offering better “customer service” to the public.

“All I want is to bring some changes to the department (from) where we are right now to take us to the next level,” he said.

Faaumu said that, as seen in the high-profile missing women cases earlier this year, the public sometimes does not trust the department or its abilities.

“We do have a good department,” Faaumu said. “(But) I think we need to be transparent. . . . We need to provide people with information.”

Faaumu said that he would apply the same qualities and principles he applies in Kihei if he were to become chief. Among those would be making sure the public’s phone calls are returned, attending community meetings, educating the public and finding solutions for the public and not just “quick fixes.”

“I think I have several more years of good employment in me,” Hill said.

“My idea is working the inside where the entire department has a relationship of trust. I want to look to trying to repair things. A lot of people on the inside are not happy with the way things are being run,” he added.

Hill said that he would like more transparency within the department as well as to the public.

The department already has enough pride and enough skills to reduce crime and improve safety, but his concern is that the department needs “some progression on the inside.”

Winters has a similar sentiment: “I believe that in the past few years it seems as though, we, the Maui Police Department, have lost the public trust. It just seems to me, it seems we lost the public trust and confidence.”

Winters seeks to restore that trust and is not competing against others for the job but wants to improve the department by hiring more women, increasing transparency in the police disciplinary process and increasing transparency to the public.

Winters, who calls himself a “coalition builder,” said he has a passion for women’s and children’s issues.

As per a state law cited by the Maui Police Commission, candidates for the job must be Hawaii residents. Commission members had agreed that applicants should have at least a bachelor’s degree or be a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. Applicants must also have at least 15 years of experience in law enforcement, with at least five of those years being at the administrative level, among other requirements.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at