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Report: Police misconduct drops on Big Island

HILO >> A new report shows a decrease in the number of Hawaii County police officers who were fired or suspended in 2015, compared to the previous year.

The report presented to the Hawaii County Police Commission on Friday shows that two officers were fired after being arrested and eight officers were suspended last year. The figures are an improvement from 2014, when three officers were fired and 17 were suspended from the police department, West Hawaii Today reported.

“I think the department’s doing really well keeping these matters in hand,” said Police Commission Chairman Guy Schutte after Friday’s meeting. “They’re doing a good job.”

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said this year’s reports of misconduct represent only a small percentage of the department, which has 426 officers.

“Overall, I think our officers are doing a lot better,” said Kubojiri.

Officers found to be in violation of department regulations undergo counseling or receive additional training before they are suspended.

“The whole purpose is to correct their behavior,” said Kubojiri. “It’s not to provide punishment.”

One of the two officers fired last year was 30-year-old Jody Buddemeyer, who struck and killed 63-year-old bicyclist, Jeffrey Surnow, while on duty on March 1. Buddemeyer was fired after his arrest for the fatal collision, removing physical evidence from a crime scene and providing false information after being involved in a traffic collision, according to the report.

Sgt. Marvin Kelly Troutman Sr., the other terminated officer, was arrested following a domestic dispute in January 2015. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in the incident as part of a plea deal. He was also accused of threatening an on-duty police officer, the report says.

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