The police chief in the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i has a history of racist and discriminatory acts, a recent discrimination investigation has revealed.
The Kaua’i Police Commission investigation found that Kaua’i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck violated anti-discrimination policies for several questionable actions including “squinting of the eyes and bowing of the head up and down” and mimicking a Japanese accent while telling stories, reports the Garden Island.
The findings, written by commission Chair Catherine Adams on Feb. 26, also noted that Raybuck created a hostile work environment for an officer based on race.
The complaint, filed to the commission in September 2020, was split into a human-resources investigation into a promotional recruitment and selection process, and another through the commission focused on discrimination allegations.
While Director of Human Resources Annette Anderson found that the claims investigated in that probe were not supported, the commission’s investigation found two incidents that violated the county’s policy against discrimination.
In audio recordings of a meeting on July 29, 2020, Raybuck can be heard making broad stereotypes about Japanese people as he was explaining why an employee of Japanese descent was not chosen for a promotion.
“So, somebody in the Japanese culture, if they think your idea is absolutely stupid and the dumbest thing they’ve ever heard, what’s their typical response to you? ‘Yes, yes, yes.’” Raybuck said while allegedly squinting and bowing.
“That’s why Western businessmen, when they go to Japan, freaking go home and they think ‘Man, I got it! I got the deal!’ and then it doesn’t come through because the Japanese people don’t want to hurt their feelings,” Raybuck said. “Japanese businessmen aren’t going to go, ‘That’s is the dumbest idea we’ve ever heard, not interested.’”
The complainant said he felt “very offended and humiliated” by Raybuck’s actions. “I felt that he was telling me this as a reason I wasn’t selected because he believes all Japanese people don’t tell you the truth,” noted the complainant.
In a separate incident on Nov. 13, 2020, Raybuck reportedly told a story to his command staff about an Asian customer in a fast-food restaurant while making “facial gestures and accent, and commented on an employee’s haircut as something out of a Kung Fu movie.”
The commission found both incidents to have violated the county’s policy against discrimination and are reportedly cause for “appropriate corrective action.” The document did not reveal the details of the said corrective action as they are “confidential personnel matters.”
It was just last year when Raybuck was seen trying to bridge gaps between police and minorities in the wake of George Floyd protests, according to Honolulu Civil Beat. At the time, he said he wanted his officers to engage in dialogue about institutional racism with Kaua’i residents.