Shake up in Maui Police Department, Chief leaving

Shake up in Maui Police Department, Chief leaving
Chief Gary Yabuta
Chief Gary Yabuta
Moreira Monsalve & Charli Scott
Moreira Monsalve & Charli Scott

KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now first told you about the Maui Police Chief leaving the department after more than thirty years.

Chief Gary Yabuta announced that he is retiring from the department but not from law enforcement.   He's taking a prestigious job on the federal level.  Yabuta will have a major role in HIDTA -- which stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.

HIDTA is a program administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and it's main focus is to dismantle drug operations.

HIDTA is in states all over the country and made up of law enforcement from every level.  Hawaii's office is on Oahu.

It is a major career move for the veteran police officer who has received a lot of criticism recently.

Two high-profile cases on Maui have brought negative attention to the department and put the Chief on the defensive.

Mother of three, Moreira Monsalve went missing earlier this year and the case remains unsolved.  The 'person of interest' in the case, her ex-boyfriend, then left the island.

A short time later, Charli Scott, a pregnant 27-year old, also went missing.  Bloody clothes, a bone, tooth, and other evidence led police to declare her case a homicide.  Her ex-boyfriend is also a 'person of interest' in that case, but there are no suspects.  Steven Capobianco has been arrested on unrelated charges of burglary and theft for a crime that happened last year at a different ex-girlfriend's home.

People living on Maui signed a petition urging Chief Yabuta to bring in the FBI to assist with both cases but he said it was not necessary at that time.

"I believe in my officers," said Yabuta at a public meeting in Kihei.

Critics were impressed that the Chief took the hits from the audience and answered all the questions, even if the answers were not popular.

Yabuta joined the department in 1983, he became Chief in 2009.  He is well-liked and respected by his officers.

It's likely Deputy Chief of Police Clayton Tom will serve as Acting Chief until the search for a new leader can be completed.

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