Officers are confirming the worst for Maui families. Each notification hits home

Maui's Police Chief John Pelletier says dispatchers took in four thousand calls on August 8th as multiple fires ravaged various parts of the island.
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 5:53 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 26, 2023 at 4:22 AM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police dispatchers took in more than 4,000 calls to 911 as a ferocious wildfire ravaged parts of Maui on Aug. 8, according to MPD Chief John Pelletier.

He added his officers jumped into action to help firefighters save as many as they could.

“There’s not enough thanks, and I love them,” said the chief, in an emotional one-on-one interview. “It’s my job to protect them and care for them, make sure nobody messes with them … I’m their chief and I’m going to do everything I can, everything to take care of them.”

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Pelletier added that 15 Maui Police Department employees lost their homes in the Lahaina wildfire. Despite their personal losses, they continue to serve their community.

The chief compared the destruction of Lahaina to losing a leg.

“Every day you will look, and you’ll know that it’s not there,” said Pelletier. “You can put a prosthetic on. It’s not the same, and you can learn to walk again, though, and you can learn to run again even, and you can have an incredible life, but you will always know that that wound is there.”

He continued: “The men and women of this department, the men and women of the fire department, they swore oaths to save lives and that’s what they did. The problem is our community lost so many. When it’s man versus nature, nature has always won,” he said.

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He said having to officially notify people they’ve lost a loved one has been the hardest.

“We’re not just going to make a notification to people we don’t know, we’re going to make notifications to our friends and our family. This is a small community. Everybody knows everybody. That’s something I certainly have learned,” he told Hawaii News Now.

He said despite the tremendous challenges, officers are coming through.

“When you think about what you’re asking somebody to do, and they do it without hesitation or reservation, that’s incredible,” he said.