As KMXT first told you Monday, Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai will be retiring at the end of the month after 25 years with the department, about half of it as chief. Today we hear a little more from Kamai about his career and future.
Retiring Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai
After the end of this month, there’ll only be one “Chief Kamai” working for the City of Kodiak. That’ll be the fire chief, Rome Kamai, because his brother, T.C., is retiring as chief of police:
“Well, I’ve made it no secret that September of 2013 was 25 years for me,” he said. “I’ve told my staff and I told the city manager as well when I got to that point I was going to have to look around and make a decision. And the decision I’ve made is it seems like the time to retire.”
September 27th will be Kamai’s last day, and it is a hard deadline, as the Chief will be going to work for the Kodiak Area Native Association as the Village Public Safety Officer coordinator:
“It’s similar to, but not identical, to what I’ve been doing for the past many years. Just seemed like a great opportunity, and I wanted some private sector time in my background as well, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Kamai says he’s fortunate to be able to retire at a relatively young age and pursue another career:
“Somebody told me that 40 was the new 20,” he said. “I’m 47 years old and I’ve always considered myself one of the luckiest guys I know. Because I’ve had a successful career; I’ve had opportunities most folks don’t get. So I’m fortunate to be able to leave with 25 years service at this state of my life and then go on and do something else.”
We’ll talk some more with retiring Police Chief T.C. Kamai Tuesday on KMXT news.
Kodiak Police Chief T.C. Kamai announced several promotions within his department on Friday, all of which go into effect today.
Detective Sergeant Ronda Wallace has been promoted to Lieutenant and will be assigned as the Operations Division Commander. She joined the KPD in 1997 as a dispatcher and was hired as a police officer in 1998.
Detective Tim Putney and police officer first class Michael Chiesa were promoted to Police Sergeant.
Corrections Officer Hector Suarez was promoted to Corrections Sergeant, also effective today. He has worked for in the jail for several years and will take over for Dan Olson who retired in May.
The Kodiak City Council Thursday night put the final nail in the coffin of the old police station downtown when it approved a contract of nearly $350,000 to Golden Alaska Excavating to tear down the nearly 60-year-old building.
“It’s very derelict. We’ve spent money to insure it and keep it heated and we’ve had, you know, frozen pipes. It just needs to go away.”
That’s City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski explaining to the council why the funds should be approved.
The building, built in the 1950s, became surplus once the new police station and jail were built further up Mill Bay Road a few years ago.
But it also played an important role in the formative years of Kodiak’s Police Chief, T.C. Kamai.
“In some ways I kinda grew up in that building. I spent over 20 years working in that place. I remember the first day I reported, one of the things I was told was ‘Hey, we’re getting a new police station next year.’ And 21 years later it finally happened.” You know, I’ve got some good memories of the place. I think there’s a lot of history in the building. Glad to be out of it, but there’s a part of me that’s going to be a little bit sad when they start taking it down.”
He’s not so sad though that it would prevent him from assisting in the demolition if he gets the chance. Continue reading
Earlier this week we heard from Kodiak’s police chief on his department’s response to increased complaints of vagrants being an issue downtown. During that interview with KMXT, T.C. Kamai also spoke a little about the underlying issues in Kodiak that contribute to vagrancy.
“You know, amongst my staff we’ve had this discussion that we’re dealing with issues of chronic homelessness, and unemployment, mental illness and substance abuse. Unfortunately, those are issues we are not resourced to be able to address,” he said. “The easiest and simplest thing we can do is if we see a violation of law is to take action. Arresting these folks doesn’t necessarily solve the problem – it’s an interim fix. So until I think, those root issues are addressed, we’re likely to see a continuation I think of the same of behavior we’ve been experiencing now for a few months.”
Much of Kodiak’s transient community spend time around our town’s harbors, and the Brother Francis Homeless Shelter ushers its guests out during the day, which gives the homeless very few options to seek cover during Kodiak’s often inclement weather. A few find shelter in the taverns that ring the Mall, and many spend time in the Kodiak public library, just a few yards from the downtown Y. However that last option will be going away – or at least made much more difficult – when the library moves from the center of town to the highest point on Signal Hill.
“That’s a good question, and that’s a question we’ve been asking ourselves now for several months, and you know, the honest answer is we’re not sure,” Kamai said. “We know that there are certain things that draw folks from this part of our community to the area – the library, the public restrooms downtown, and we’re not really sure how that’s going to affect things once they (the library) move.” Continue reading
Last month some Kodiak residents vented their frustration at the City Council over what they saw as inaction over vagrants accosting people in the heart of downtown.
“There are drunks down there all the time. It’s disgusting,” said Judi Kidder.
“What’s it going to take? A Rape? A murder? Some woman getting beaten to a pulp?” asked Lisa Zeimer. “It is a disgrace and it is a blight on our community and I cannot believe that the council lets this stand.”
Both spoke at the city council meeting on May 9th.
In response, the Kodiak Police Department has very visibly increased the number of foot patrols of the area in and around the Mall, where vagrants and public inebriates gather.
“The numbers for arrests for public intoxication or for possessing an open container in a public area are trending upwards, because it’s part of our overall more proactive and aggressive strategy with trying to address those things,” said Police Chief T.C. Kamai.
However, he said throwing people in jail only treats the symptoms of the vagrant issue in Kodiak, which has many causes and few solutions.
“I think we live, over all, in a safe town, but there are certain areas, and this might be one of them, where just simply by virtue of having some intoxicated people just kind of hanging around in the area where an extra bit of caution would be prudent, I think.” Continue reading