BY DARRYL PERRY – After the recent ruling by Circuit Court Judge Valenciano with respect to the Mayor being able to discipline the Chief of Police, I have been asked over and over to comment. Not wanting to muddy the waters, I have withheld my thoughts, but after further consideration and still more requests, I felt that perhaps it is the best thing to do.
After review by some of the most respected legal minds in the State, the ruling by Judge Valenciano has a high probability of being appealed and overturned. It certainly is not unusual for decisions to be overturned by the Intermediate Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court, as it has happened to Circuit Court judges throughout the State of Hawaii, including rulings made by Judge Valenciano.
The appeal will be based on several errors by the Trier of Facts which includes among other things, not taking into account provisions of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. However, the main reason this ruling will not stand, from a historical and fundamental point of view, is that it is glaringly wrong.
Aside from the legal arguments, first and foremost it is wrong because this ruling injects politics where it does not belong. Citizens have stated to me that it now creates situations where the Mayor may now dictate who should be criminally investigated, who should be given a break, who should receive preferential treatment, while giving immunity to special interest groups or even the Mayor himself. And if the Chief of Police refuses to follow the Mayor’s order, as the Chief should, he or she may be suspended indefinitely.
While seemingly improbable under normal circumstances – recent controversial events under this administration can only be described as opprobrium in nature.
In order for this system to work, the Chief of Police must remain untainted by outside political influences to allow for criminal investigations to be conducted in a fair and impartial manner. And, if there are allegations of mismanagement or misconduct by the Chief of Police, then it should be the Police Commission, with its’ seven unbiased members, who are charged with conducting a fair Due Process hearing and render necessary sanctions if warranted. This process does not and never fell under the authority of the Mayor—the architects of the Kauai County Charter had no intentions of giving the Mayor that kind of power or latitude.
Darryl Perry is the Chief of Police of Kauai County