Commission declines to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Maui Police Chief Pelletier
September 8, 2022, 8:48 AM HST
* Updated September 8, 9:13 AM
The Maui police commission has declined to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Maui Police Chief John Pelletier. The unanimous decision was announced following executive session during a special meeting on Wednesday in which members reviewed three complaints alleging violations of policy and procedure.
Chair Frank De Rego said independent third party investigators were retained to fully vett allegations of violations of county policies, made by two sworn officers and one civilian employee of the department against Chief Pelletier.
According to De Rego, the investigations concluded that two of the complaints were “not substantiated” by the evidence, and a third complaint “was not substantiated to all grounds with the exception of an incident involving raised voices and unprofessional language.”
The commission took note that Chief Pelletier has obtained an executive coach to address management style.
“After carefully considering the investigative reports, including all interviews and documentary evidence, the commission voted to file the complaints and not initiate disciplinary action,” said De Rego during yesterday’s meeting. “The commission’s annual review of the chief’s performance will include a review of the executive coaching program and its results.”
Representatives with the Maui Chapter of the State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers, say multiple complaints remain under active investigation against the chief and several members of his executive staff.
According to SHOPO representatives, there were a total of eight complaints filed by five females and three males, which included both SHOPO and non-SHOPO members. The complaints, they said, could be characterized as “hostile workplace complaints that include harassment in the workplace and gender discrimination.”
While SHOPO is not a party to any of the complaints, the organization said it expects those complaints to be “taken seriously, investigated fully, and decided fairly based upon the available evidence.”
Sergeant Nick Krau, Chair with the SHOPO Maui Chapter Board of Directors said the organization does not know the outcome of the investigations or the information the Commission evaluated to render its decisions.
“SHOPO will continue to monitor this process to ensure that any of our members who filed a complaint, or who decide to utilize an appeal process, are not retaliated against for exercising their rights as employees,” said Krau in an email communication with Maui Now following Wednesday’s meeting.
During the special meeting, multiple former colleagues of Pelletier spoke in favor of his character.
Commissioner Lahela Aiwohi asked Corporation Counsel to address the testimony from residents of Las Vegas who spoke to the allegations happening on Maui. “Can we disregard the testimony because to me I don’t feel it’s really relevant. They’re not a part of what is happening and this is more of a character witness, if anything,” she said.
Corp. Counsel responded saying, “In general people can testify to their experience relevant to the agenda item, and I think that in general the testimony is relevant since it involves their experience with Chief Pelletier. You can give it the weight that you feel that it deserves in terms of how it is relevant to your actual decision making on that item.”
The County Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines state that complainants are to refrain from discussing their case with others in the workplace until after the investigation has concluded.
Complainants have 30 calendar days after notification of the investigation results to file a formal appeal with the Mayor’s office.
The next regular meeting of the Maui Police Commission is scheduled for Sept. 21, at 10 a.m.