Maui News

Yabuta to Retire as Maui Police Chief for Federal Job

May 16, 2014, 5:08 PM HST
* Updated May 19, 9:29 AM
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Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta, photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta, photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta is retiring from his post as the top administrator for the Maui Police Department and will be taking on employment at the federal level, he confirmed in an email communication this afternoon.

Chief Yabuta is coming up on his five year anniversary at the helm of the Maui Police Department.

His new role will be as director for the Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program, which has an office in Honolulu, Chief Yabuta tells Maui Now.

Contrary to other published reports, Chief Yabuta said he will continue as chief until sometime in July, and will not be leaving in two weeks as another news outlet had reported.


According to the White House website, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.


In an announcement this afternoon Chief Yabuta told his command staff that “their success as leaders, coupled with their creativity to fight our community’s crime threats,” have made his decision to retire an easier one. Department officials say the chief “wants every officer and every civilian worker of the Maui Police Department to know how proud he is of each one of them.”

Yabuta was selected as Chief of the Maui Police Department in May of 2009, filling the post left by the retirement of former Chief Tom Phillips.

Since joining the Maui Police Department in 1983, Chief Yabuta’s career with the Maui Police Department has encompassed a broad range of duties including a previous role as deputy chief of police immediately prior to his selection for the department’s top job.


Yabuta received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the California State University California, Northridge.

At the time of his appointment, the Maui Police Department had 367 officers and 143 civilian employees.

Yabuta defended the department recently during a Kīhei Community Association meeting in which community members engaged in heated dialogue with department officials over two high profile missing persons cases. In the meeting, he defended his officers and the efforts that were being made to solve the cases.

The department’s Assistant Chief Clayton Tom is a 31-year police veteran and a 2007 graduate of the FBI National Academy. It is unclear if he will fill the role of interim chief as the search for a new chief gets underway.

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