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Maui residents getting a say in how the county reforms its police department

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 6:35 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2021 at 7:24 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Maui’s troubled police department is getting new leadership, there is also a push for permanent changes.

Community members have submitted revisions to the Maui Charter Commission that could end up on next year’s ballot.

“The whole goal of this is to make sure that our community feels safe,” said Maui police reform advocate Keisa Liu.

Keisa Liu is passionate about police reform on Maui.

She sent two proposals to the Maui Charter Commission for consideration. One was to increase minimum requirements for chief of police to fifteen years of experience and a bachelor’s degree.

The other was to establish a civilian oversight board to eliminate conflicts of interest and conduct investigations and make binding determinations in disciplinary action and staff by civilians.

The Maui Charter Commission adopted the first one.

“People who go into policing tend to go at a very early age. So, even if they start at 22 after they graduated from college, that’s somewhere around the age of 37 they would be able to manage a department of about 400 people. So, it seemed reasonable to have those expectations,” Liu said.

One of the more controversial ideas was to bar current or former law enforcement officers from the commission, but that proposal was recently rejected.

Maui Police Commissioner Mark Redeker was an officer in California for 15 years. He said he holds the police departments and officers to very high standards.

“I have numerous emails that I’ve gotten from the public saying, ‘Keep it up, keep it up.’ A lot of times the vote is very one sided. I’m sometimes the only holdout saying, ‘No, this isn’t right,’” Redeker said.

The Charter Commission also approved making reports by the Maui Police Commission open to the public.

Another proposed amendment specifies that the chief may be removed for cause by the police commission only after being informed in writing of the reasons which are resulting in the chief’s dismissal, and after being given a hearing before the commission.

“The community wants openness. I think they want transparency. I think they want to know what’s going on,” said Redeker.

In addition to the charter changes, new Maui Police Chief John Pelletier and new Deputy Police Chief Charles Hank will take the lead beginning next month.

Pelletier retired last week as captain from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Hank was a Deputy Chief with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and retired last year as Assistant Sheriff. Both will be sworn into the Maui Police Department on December 15th.

The Maui Charter Commission’s next meeting will be on December 2nd. The public is welcome to testify on the proposed amendments. Written testimony sent in prior to oral testimony is highly recommended.

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