Maui police detective breaks code of silence, claiming corruption and abuses of power at MPD

Among his allegations, he says a patrolman was abducted by other officers to be interrogated about a case involving the former chief.
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:39 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 7:53 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui police detective is breaking the code of silence to expose what he says is corruption and abuse of power in the Maui Police Department.

The allegations include the kidnapping of a patrolman for interrogation by other officers.

It’s a story Sgt. Christopher Schmitt hopes will influence who is chosen as the next chief.

“I got nothing to gain or lose. I can retire anytime,” said Schmitt, a detective in the MPD.

Schmitt, an Army veteran, has served 25 years in MPD. But before he turns in his badge and a new chief is chosen, he feels compelled to let his community know what’s going on.

“I can come forward, and I feel like it’s my duty to because there’s a lot of young patrolmen that are out there that are fearful now. Everything has to do with who the next chief is,” he said.

Schmitt said the fear stems from an incident on Nov. 7 at Queen Kaahumanu Center when former MPD Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu reversed into a parked motorcycle then fled the scene.

The surveillance video was posted online, which provoked a frantic search for the leak.

Multiple sources tell Hawaii News Now a sergeant and officer in the department’s Criminal Intelligence Unit picked up the patrolman who responded to the chief’s crash and drove him to Kahakuloa and interrogated him. CIU is an elite team under the chief’s direction, and Kahakuloa is about an hour away from Kahului and outside of cell service.

“They continuously asked him about Chief Faaumu’s accident video which got leaked to the media,” Schmitt said.

“Was not only questioned about the video over and over ... they brought up his family … said something to the effect of, ‘Well, you got a family, right?’ … they reminded him … ‘You got a long career with MPD, you don’t want to mess that up.’”

After the patrolman was dropped off, he filed a report with MPD’s Criminal Investigation Division where Schmitt is assigned.

“He really believes he got kidnapped. He really believes it,” said Schmitt.

Nearly a year later, no charges have been filed and Schmitt said he has faced hostility and retaliation when he asked his lieutenant about what happened.

“Not only was there not a kidnapping, there wasn’t even an unlawful imprisonment. I even said, ‘There wasn’t even a harassment?’ And he said, ‘No. It didn’t meet the threshold’ and he got angry,” Schmitt said.

Detective Schmitt said tension grew and eventually exploded and his lieutenant blew up.

“After me taking five, 10, 15 minutes, whatever it was, of swearing and malicious and false accusations against me, to me finally not being able to put up with anymore and swearing back,” he said.

“What he stated to me very, very clearly was, ‘Go home,’” Schmitt said.

Schmitt said he did as he was told but then was then marked ‘AWOL’ and docked $1,500 pay.

The detective said speaking up is not about the money, it’s about the integrity.

“It’s my duty to the department as well as to the county to expose this. So that it can be properly investigated,” Schmitt said.

MPD officials said in a statement: “These allegations are currently under investigation … no further details are available at this time.”

Schmitt said the best way to end what he considers corruption in MPD is to pick a chief from outside the department.

The commission is in the final stage of that selection. They are taking public comments on Thursday and interviewing the five finalists on Friday.

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