Guardian of the Garden Island
Chief of Police Todd Raybuck has made it his mission to care for all of Kaua‘i’s people by fostering relationships based on trust and support.
Kaua‘i Police Department is under new leadership now that Todd Raybuck has officially been sworn in as chief. His first day on the job was April 22.
Though new to Kaua‘i, Raybuck is no stranger to the aloha spirit and ensuing values that guide the Garden Island community.
“First and foremost, it goes all the way back to my experiences on O‘ahu,” he says.
At age 18, Raybuck found himself stationed at Wheeler Air Force Base in Wahiawā, where he got to experience firsthand the state’s celebrated culture, people and environment.
“The aloha spirit had a significant impact on my life, an impact that really never left me,” he adds.
Following his time in the military, Ray-buck carried his love of the islands with him all the way to Las Vegas, where he served in local law enforcement for nearly three decades before retiring as a captain with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
After retirement, Raybuck got another chance to make his way to the islands. After an eight-month vetting process that saw the local police commission go through 130 candidates, he was the last man standing for KPD’s chief of police position.
Once selected, Raybuck got right to work, staying in daily contact with acting Chief Michael Contrades.
“We spoke every day, sometimes for hours on end,” says Raybuck. “In all the transitions I’ve been through, this has been the easiest, most positive experience.”
Contrades, who will be retiring this year, is equally enthusiastic about what the new chief brings to the department, describing Raybuck as a really good and humble guy.
“I am extremely excited to be working with Chief Raybuck,” echoes Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Everything that I’ve heard of him speaks to what we’re looking for in leadership: a man of integrity, fairness, honesty and experience, an extremely easy person to work with. He has high standards, and I think Kaua‘i is getting a great asset.”
Growing up in Illinois, Raybuck always knew he wanted to be a police officer. He first envisioned a career in law enforcement while at the side of his beloved godfather, James Reyome, who was chief of police in their small midwest town.
Raybuck recalls the two of them sitting together in church and his godfather handing him a police whistle.
What struck Raybuck most was the relationship he saw between the police and the community.
“I remember driving around with my godfather and everybody knew him, and they would wave to him, and he would wave back,” he recalls. “There was this sense of mutual respect.”
It was this relationship with his godfather that shaped and molded Raybuck’s idea of what it means to be a leader in law enforcement.
“I grew up calling him ‘Chief’ my whole life,” Ray-buck says. “He’s always in my heart and in my spirit, so every day I come to work I know I have a responsibility to develop the same type of relationship with the community I serve that he had with the community he served.”
Raybuck, for his part, spent his first week on island driving around the various neighborhoods.
“I’m really looking forward to being accessible to the community,” he says. “One of my top priorities for at least the first six months to a year is getting out and meeting the communities that I serve.”
As a former Police Athletic League coach, Raybuck believes it is especially important to engage with the island’s keiki.
“It was those interactions at a young age that really led me to trust and respect, to feel safe, protected and valued around police officers,” he says. “The reason I’m a police officer is my interaction with the police. I hope the relationships our police officers form with Kaua‘i’s youth encourages them to enter this career field just as it did for me.”
Other top priorities for the new chief include officer recruitment and retention, officer wellness, and training. Then, there are the larger community issues that will see him work with other organizations, hospitals, schools and government agencies.
According to Raybuck, one of the most central components of this job will be the relationships he is able to foster — whether it is listening to his staff and giving his officers what they need to succeed, or being out in the community getting to know the people that he serves.
His goal is to be engaged with the entire community and he simply asks that they also be engaged with their police department, to make sure that they continue to support the men and women who serve this community.
“They have a tough job, they work really hard and sacrifice a lot for the safety of this community and I would just ask that our community supports them and lets them know they are valued,” he adds.
Raybuck is deeply honored to be given this opportunity to serve Kaua‘i and its people.
“(It) is more than I could have ever dreamed of as a child,” continues Raybuck, who moved to the island with his wife, Kelly, and two teenage sons.
“This is where we were meant to be. It already feels like home.”