BREAKING: John Pelletier Selected as Final Candidate for Maui Police Chief
October 5, 2021, 9:58 AM HST
* Updated October 7, 4:56 AM
The Maui Police Commission this morning announced the selection of John Pelletier as the final candidate for Police Chief for Maui County. The final candidate must still undergo pre-employment requirements, a background check and a psychological evaluation, and is still subject to a final vote by the Commission following receipt and review of these items.
The commission has recessed their special meeting to Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, at 9 a.m., to vote on approval or disapproval once all documents are available for review. The commission will meet for their regular meeting on Oct. 20, but will not take a final vote at that time.
The vote to advance Pelletier as the final candidate was made in a motion raised by Commissioner Janet Kuwahara, and seconded by Commissioner Stacey Moniz. The motion advanced unanimously in a 9-0 vote today.
John Pelletier was the only finalist from outside the Maui Police Department. He has served with the Narcotics Bureau, as a Commander and Captain with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
Pelletier was among a list of five finalists considered for the job of Top Cop. Others that were in the running included: Everett Ferreira (Captain, Uniform Services Bureau, District I – Wailuku Patrol); Lawrence Hudson (Retired, Former Assistant Chief, Bureau Commander of Support Services Bureau); John Jakubscak (Assistant Chief, Bureau Commander of Uniform Services Bureau); and Victor Ramos (Assistant Chief, Bureau Commander of Investigative Services Bureau)
The five finalists were selected among an applicant pool of 17 individuals who had sought consideration.
In making the motion, Commissioner Janet Kuwahara said, “I think that all of the candidates did an outstanding job… but I do feel that one candidate did exemplify what we are looking for in our next chief. I think that Maui County has spoken to us, and they’ve been pretty much engaged in this whole process and expressed a need for change.”
“I feel that the sentiment is also within the police department itself, and I think a lot of the police feel that they should have some changes–a lot of stuff that they’re not happy with. I’ve received numerous calls from sworn and unsworn employees that have been expressing this,” said Kuwahara.
“They were all really able to articulate themselves,” said Commissioner Moniz.
Commissioner Mark Redeker said he would be comfortable hiring either Pelletier or Hudson, but ultimately voted in favor to the motion to advance Pelletier as the final candidate.
“I would have no problem going with either one,” he said. “The scoring process (so I could keep track of it), came within two points of each other, with Pelletier having more interesting ideas–new ideas… he talked about 21st [century] policing. I spent the time this weekend looking at 21st [century] policing… and he was in fact quoting several of those items that I did look up–very straight forward, very honest, and very direct.”
Commissioner Matthew Mano, said he liked both Pelletier and Hudson as well. “I really wish we could chose five chiefs, but we can’t,” said Mano. He said he was impressed with Pelletier’s research relating to the police union, saying equipment is needed that fits the needs of those on the front lines.
Travis Tankayo said, “I give all of the candidates big credit for putting it all on the line… excellent careers all of them, in all aspects. [They have] different styles, different types of careers, but I commend all of them… I’m thankful that we have men like this who are willing to try and help.”
“Pelletier did talk the talk,” said commissioner Emmett Rodrigues. “He was very strong in his interview and written interview. We’ll just have to see if he can do the job like he said. It’s going to take 5-7 years to come back, to bring it up to par. We’re probably not going to be here… Like they all said they are accountable… and we as commissioners can hire and fire.”
Commission Chair Frank De Rego said that in addition to the benchmarks set by the body, he also looked at education, community policing, and strategic planning.
“I suggested that we put into the charter that the floor be a Bachelor’s degree… I also looked at the whole idea of community policing. Actually four of the candidates did sort of piggy back off of each other on that question and sort of agreed that it was retention that was the problem,” said De Rego.
“What I heard in that was that community policing is pretty much going to be the status quo.. until the retention problem is solved. And I’m not quite sure that was an adequate answer for me. I used to be on the Maui Redevelopment Agency. We actually brought in the Clean and Safe program with a former police officer Lawrence Kauhaahaa–a program that has now grown from what I understand to Lahaina and it was also suggested that the council member from Upcountry/Paia/Makawao, was also looking at it for the town of Pāʻia. So with my experience during the MRA, I’m not sure that was an adequate answer,” said De Rego. “The only person that I saw who was thinking outside the box on that one was candidate Pelletier.”
In regards to Strategic Planning, De Rego said, “A plan is a plan. It can go right or wrong. You can dove tail. The pandemic could have turned any strategic plan on its head, but it’s a path forward. It’s a way of taking an assessment, getting the stakeholders involved, looking at your operations–not only internally, but reaching out externally.”
De Rego said there were a couple of people who stood out as having understanding of the process, “but there was one person who really understood the process… in terms of how they would approach the whole idea of strategic planning for the department… I know these written answers are great, because no matter who we chose, we could look at the strengths and weaknesses of it and then try to improve the weaknesses, but hold them to what they are promising they would do as a leader.”
“Within the current challenges, how do you add value to particular function of the police within the constraints given?” said De Rego who noted that he was not only looking for subjects, he was looking for process and making it an inclusive process for the community.
“I also too want to commend all of the candidates for their participation. It’s difficult to get out there and make yourself available to the community, in a sense to be accountable for what you think and believe in regards to your profession that you’ve given almost your whole life to,” said De Rego. “I have a lot of aloha for all of the candidates that were there today.”
“I do not take anything away from any of the other candidates in terms of what they brought. In terms of their experience. They are still valuable members of the police department. They all said they are a member of a team and I think whoever the leader of that team is, I think all the candidates will make themselves available–whoever was going to be selected out of this–to the other in order to make this thing work,” said De Rego.
*This story is developing and will be updated with additional details shortly.