Kihei resident Roger Dixon, 60, was elected as the new chairman of the Maui Police Commission at its March 19 meeting in Wailuku. Dixon, a six-year Maui resident, is a retired Seattle police officer, where he served for 18 years, and a 16-year veteran of Washington's San Juan County sheriff's department. The new chair said he had been in law enforcement for a total of 34 years from 1974 to 2008.
In Seattle, his experience included operations, investigation and boat harbors. He is also a trained hostage negotiator. Dixon is a former vice president of the Seattle Police Guild, a law enforcement union.
Dixon said he and his family have been coming to Maui since 1985; he has been a full-time resident since 2008. He was appointed to the Police Commission by former Mayor Charmaine Tavares in 2010. His term runs through end of March 2015.
Kīhei resident Roger Dixon (foreground), a former Seattle police officer, was elected the new chairman of the Maui Police Commission at its March 19 meeting in Wailuku. Kelly Ruidas (far left) was elected vice chairman. Some of the other members of the nine-member commission and members of the Maui Police Department are seen in the background.
Asked about his vision of the future, he replied, "I have tremendous confidence in Chief Gary Yabuta."
Dixon sees the Maui Police Department (MPD) as a whole as "multi-faceted and effective."
He is supportive of the MPD's budget and its needs, including "capital improvement funding for Lahaina and Molokai stations."
With respect to the chief's annual evaluation by the police commission, Dixon said the actual document "is confidential because it is a personnel matter." However, he continued, "the public gets a synopsis annually from the chair" [of the commission]. He said the synopsis of the chief's evaluation for calendar 2013 is expected to be released "for the mayor and the media sometime in April."
His own objective is "to continue to build trust between the community and police department," and he hopes to find "the best ways to achieve that goal."
Dixon said he was aware of the interest of the public in the MPD, and also that he understood the "pain and frustration" felt by the families of two missing women who have been the object of recent intensive searches.
Asked why the commission continues to meet in the conference room at the Wailuku Police Station, a location that is not easily accessible to public, he replied, "The commission had looked at other locations and was not able to find a reasonable alternative." "Individual commissioners are out in the community," he noted.
Dixon stressed that activities aimed at building better relations between the commission and the community included the commission itself holding meetings in different parts of the county, such as Molokai and Lana'i.
Asked about the problems that face the MPD, including staffing, turnover and retention, he replied that these "are common problems facing police departments everywhere." "Shift work is seldom conducive to family life," he added. Overall, he observed, Maui County's problems are "not more than anywhere else."
Outgoing Chairman Gregg Lundberg, the general manager of the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Ka'anapali, turned the gavel over to Dixon effective its April meeting. Lundgren's term has one more year to run, and though he is no longer chairman, he will continue on as a member of the appointed body.
In other action, Kelly Ruidas was elected commission vice chairman, replacing Ron Vogt, whose term ended March 31.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Wednesday, April 16, at the Wailuku Station conference room. The meeting may begin somewhat later than normal starting time of 9 a.m. to accommodate newly appointed member Nora Kawasaki, who will come in from Lana'i.