Maui Police Commission selects an outsider to lead MPD amid calls for greater accountability

It's the first time the Maui Police Commission has selected a non-Hawaii resident to lead the force.
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 10:25 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 5, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Maui Police Commission has selected an outsider ― Las Vegas Captain John Pelletier ― to head MPD amid a push for more transparency and accountability.

It’s the first time the Maui Police Commission has selected a non-Hawaii resident to lead the force.

Pelletier said he is humbled and grateful.

“I in my heart believe it’s a calling specifically to impact the Maui community for the greater good. And it’s not lost on me, it’s not lost on me at all, what took place,” said Pelletier.

Pelletier was unanimously selected as the Maui Police Department’s chief on Tuesday morning.

Before taking the vote, commission Vice Chair Roberta Patnode said if the body didn’t select Pelletier out of the five finalists “we would be foolish.”

“I could not help but be impressed by Pelletier,” she said. “He has proven that he can be a leader.”

Last week, the commission held its interviews with the finalists for the position publicly.

And for the first time in Hawaii, the interviewing process was streamed live online for the public to watch. Commissioners said they hoped the selection process was a step toward building greater public trust in the department, whose leaders are facing accusations of abuse of power.

Pelletier was the only candidate for the position from an outside department. Born in Buffalo, New York, he is a third-generation police officer.

He has been with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for 22 years. He is the current captain of the Major Crimes and Narcotics Bureau. He has commanded the SWAT and K-9 units, and was in charge of the Las Vegas strip during the mass shooting.

“Maui County has spoken to us and they’ve been engaged in this whole process and they’ve expressed their need for change,” said commissioner Janet Kuwahara.

The newcomer to Hawaii will be challenged with 128 vacancies to fill and winning the trust of a tight-knit community.

“We have to see if he can do the job like he said,” said commissioner Emmett Rodrigues.

Pelletier asks his critics to give him a chance.

“For those who are unsure, just watch and wait and give it a chance because I think we can, I know we can build something great,” he said.

Pelletier still has to pass a background check, drug test, and psychological evaluation.

Commissioners will make their decision final in November.

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