Buffett retiring from HPD, moving to Hawaiian Air
Sgt. Kim Buffett, one of the high-profile faces of the Honolulu Police Department as the head of CrimeStoppers, will retire at the end of the month after 29 years and 10 months on the job.
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Sgt. Kim Buffett, one of the high-profile faces of the Honolulu Police Department as the head of CrimeStoppers, will retire at the end of the month after 29 years and 10 months on the job and take her experience dealing with criminals, cops and journalists to Hawaiian Airlines as Hawaiian’s new head of guest services operations.
“I can deal with the irate, I can deal with the very good,” Buffett said. “I’ve been there.”
There was no particular reason why Buffett decided to sign up for HPD’s 98th recruit class en route to joining a department in 1987 that was dominated by men — other than the challenge.
“I went to private school (Star of the Sea School) and you either went on to be a flight attendant or do girl things,” Buffett said. “I was a very rebellious child. I just wanted to do something nobody else was doing.”
When doubters told Buffett, “‘You can’t do that,’ I said, ‘Watch me.’”
After graduating from HPD’s Ke Kula Maka‘i police academy, Buffett started as a rookie walking a beat in Chinatown until 1988, when she moved to the receiving desk at the old police headquarters on Young Street for the next two years. She then worked a patrol beat in the McCully area from 1990 to 1993 before moving to juvenile services, where she dealt with gang members and runaways until 2005.
Buffett particularly liked the part of her juvenile services job that took her into middle school classrooms across Oahu to try and make a difference with children who were on their way to making good — and bad — decisions.
Then in 2005 she took over a program, CrimeStoppers, that pays rewards up to $1,000 for anonymous tips that help Honolulu police track down criminals.
Being in charge also meant working with donors to raise reward money at an annual dinner at the Honolulu Country Club that sometimes attracts as many as 600 people.
But first, Buffett had to learn about CrimeStoppers.
“When I took over, honestly, I didn’t know what CrimeStoppers was,” Buffett said. “I didn’t even know we had CrimeStoppers. My first goal was to make sure every officer knew they had access to CrimeStoppers because it wasn’t being used to its potential. So I went to every detective and said, ‘Give me a case. Let’s put it out there and see what happens.’ Everybody started hearing about CrimeStoppers. And it definitely got easier for us to go to businesses (for donations).”
She is being replaced by HPD Sgt. Chris Kim.
In a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, HPD Maj. Larry Lawson, commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, poured praise on Buffett.
“Not only has she coordinated the Honolulu CrimeStoppers program, but she has also assisted in the implementation of CrimeStoppers on Kauai,” Lawson wrote. “She was also the Region 13 Director for CrimeStoppers USA, and in that position she worked closely with Guam in helping to develop their CrimeStoppers program. In coordination with the State Attorney General’s Office, Sgt. Buffett gave over 100 school presentations and helped
develop Student CrimeStoppers.
“In the 12 years that Sgt. Buffett has been involved with CrimeStoppers, the program logged more than 11,000 media releases, 34,000 tips that led to arrests, and 85,000 cases closed,” Lawson said. “This was accomplished with a staff of one officer (Sgt. Buffett), one civilian clerk, and 25 volunteers who staff the phones seven days a week. Sgt. Kim Buffett has been a great asset to not only CrimeStoppers, but to the Honolulu Police Department and the islands of Oahu, Kauai, and Guam. She was the face of CrimeStoppers Honolulu for the past 12 years and did an excellent job in her tenure.”
CrimeStoppers may have raised Buffett’s profile inside and outside the department, but she’s particularly fond of her earlier HPD assignment working with school children.
“I loved working with the kids all those years,” Buffett said.
Looking back after nearly 30 years, Buffett had only praise for a department — and a career — that Buffett insisted never let her down.
“I never had a bad moment in my career,” she said. “I am going to miss everything. I grew up with them. I’m really going to miss the camaraderie.”
While she’s looking forward to starting a new career with Hawaiian Airlines on Oct. 2, Buffett believes her nearly 30 years wearing a badge and gun will prepare her for dealing with airline passengers.
“If you think about my job, I’m customer service all the time,” she said.
Brice Fukumoto, Hawaiian Airlines’ director of guest services, told the Star-Advertiser in an email, “We’re looking forward to welcoming Kim to the Hawaiian Airlines ‘ohana. Her leadership, experience and customer service focus will complement Hawaiian’s mission to provide a great guest service experience.”