LIHUE, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kauai County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. broke his silence on Thursday about the shakeup involving three of the Kauai Police Department's top leaders. Hawaii News Now has learned the high-ranking officials were placed on leave because of a complaint filed by a fellow officer.
According to Carvalho, the complaint was filed with the Kauai County Police Commission. He said that Chief Darryl Perry and Assistant Chiefs Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan were placed on leave to protect everyone involved in the investigation.
A source with knowledge of the case said the controversy involves accusations by KPD officer Darla Abbatiello-Higa. She received a $980,000 settlement from the county in a whistleblower protection lawsuit several years ago. The source said she registered a new hostile work environment complaint against Asher in October, then filed a second complaint against Quibilan last month.
"Reputations are at stake, and we must refrain from making premature judgments. I want to assure the public that these actions were not taken lightly, were made based upon legal advice, and were made in the best interest of all involved," said Carvalho.
According to the source, Perry initially wanted to work from home during the investigation involving the assistant chiefs because Abatiello-Higa also works at the headquarters, and she had accused him of favoring an assistant chief in one of her complaints. However, the source said the mayor told Perry he should remain at work. The source said Perry was then suspended for seven days for disobeying orders by not reporting to the office. After the week-long suspension, he'll be on paid leave. Carvalho insisted that he has the authority to place the police chief on leave.
"The bottom line is, I am the Chief Executive for the County of Kauai, and I am ultimately responsible for the day to day operations of all administrative County departments and divisions," Carvalho said.
Perry declined to comment on the investigation. The Kauai Police Commission is holding a special meeting next Tuesday to discuss the disciplinary actions.
Deputy Police Chief Michael Contrades will serve as Acting Police Chief until further notice. Assistant Chief Mark Begley has been appointed by Contrades as Acting Deputy Chief. Captain Sherwin Perez now serves as the Acting Assistant Chief of the Investigative Services Bureau and Lt. Jon Takamura, who is currently Acting Captain of the Patrol Services Bureau, will now serve as the Acting Assistant Chief of that bureau."
Statement from Mayor Carvalho regarding the Kaua'i Police Department
Recent events regarding high-level personnel in the Kauai Police Department have raised questions and concerns in our community. There are many questions and some theories being circulated, and I would like to take this moment to address some of these issues.
The Chief of Police and two Assistant Chiefs are currently on leave, as a result of an employee-generated complaint to the Police Commission.
As is the duty of the Police Commission and the County, the complaint will be fully investigated and adjudicated. The Commission receives and handles complaints on a regular basis and has detailed rules and guidelines for doing so. Those rules and guidelines are public information available on the Commission's website for you to review.
In order to protect everyone involved in this matter, and to insure that the complaint is investigated properly, certain actions have been taken, including the placement on leave of the three high-ranking police officials.
Please note that this is not the first time an employee has been placed on leave pending the outcome of an investigation, and it should not be construed to be disciplinary in nature. Reputations are at stake, and we must refrain from making premature judgments. I want to assure the public that these actions were not taken lightly, were made based upon legal advice, and were made in the best interest of all involved.
Questions have been raised as to my authority to place the Chief of Police on leave. I can assure you that I have that authority pursuant to Section 7.05 of the Kauai County Charter.
The bottom line is, I am the Chief Executive for the County of Kauai, and I am ultimately responsible for the day to day operations of ALL administrative County departments and divisions.
Over the past few days, I have been in communication with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Police Commission, and they have been fully informed of the steps that have been taken to insure the integrity of the disposition of the complaint.
Yesterday, I met with the interim KPD leadership team and I can assure you that they are well-prepared to manage the department during this time.
It is standard procedure to keep all information relative to the complaint confidential while the investigation is in process. The County will not reveal any information about the content of the complaint, nor will we confirm or deny any information presented by others about the matter while the investigation is ongoing.
In conclusion, I would like to state that I have full confidence that this complaint will be handled appropriately, that we will take all actions we are obligated to take, and that all of those actions will protect the interests of all involved, and the public at-large.
I also have full confidence that the interim leadership team of the Kauai Police Department, led by Acting Chief Michael Contrades and Acting Deputy Chief Mark Begley, that they will do what it takes to insure that our community is protected in the interest of public safety.
That concludes my comments. I will not be entertaining questions. If you have questions, you can direct them to my Communications Team and we will do our best to provide you answers to the extent that we can.
Aloha and Mahalo.