KPD Chief Freitas retires
LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i Police Department Chief George Freitas announced yesterday he will retire next Friday, Oct. 31, after serving eight stormy years as Kaua‘i’s top cop.
He will receive $200,000 “in compensation for retirement,” said Cindy Mei Ozaki, county public information officer, at the historic County Building Tuesday, after she handed out Freitas’ retirement statement.
Freitas, when reached for comment at his home Tuesday night, called the money a “severance package.”
Ozaki, citing the laws against releasing information about a personnel matter, would not comment on where the money would come from, or if the County Council had approved the funds, or whether the $200,000 was supplemental to his regular retirement package, only that “all necessary approvals have been made.”
“Chief Freitas has given eight years of dedicated service to the County of Kaua‘i and its people,” said Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste in the statement. “I wish him and his family all the best in whatever the future holds for them.”
Freitas said the agreement of his retirement was the result of “ongoing discussions over a long period of time between” his lawyer and the county. He has been represented by O‘ahu attorney Margery Bronster in a number of previous lawsuits.
“There were discussions,” said Ozaki about Freitas’ retirement, adding “the mayor was involved in those discussions.”
Ozaki also could not confirm that the special Police Commission meeting on Tuesday, or the previous special meeting last Tuesday, were held to discuss Freitas’ job.
The only business on yesterday’s meeting agenda, and the previous Tuesday’s agenda, which the mayor sat in on, was “the consideration of the hire, employment status, dismissal, removal, or discipline of a member, officer or employee of the Kaua‘i Police Department, or of charges that might be brought against the member, officer, or employee.”
At yesterday’s special Police Commission’s meeting, an executive session was held for about an hour. When the meeting went back into public session, the commissioners agreed unanimously on a motion regarding what was discussed in executive session.
The commission’s lawyer, David Proudfoot, then announced a press release would be forthcoming shortly. And the commissioners announced a recess so that the chair, Stanton Pa, could sign the motion agreed upon.
A half-hour later, Ozaki issued a press release regarding Freitas’ retirement.
Ozaki said, when asked whether the Police Commission had accepted Freitas’ retirement, “The commission needed to give chairman (Pa) authorization to sign off on the agreement.”
In the past three years, Freitas’ has been named in a number of lawsuits affecting the KPD. He was placed on administrative leave with pay for five months in 2001, and was eventually censured by the Police Commission.
But in the county statement, Freitas was nothing but positive.
“I personally thank the outstanding men and women of the Kaua‘i Police Department who gave me the pleasure and honor to serve them,” he said. “I also thank those past and current members of the Kaua‘i Police Commission and the Kaua‘i County Council who supported both me and the department. They are the true and trusted supporters of the Kaua‘i Police Department.
“I have been in law enforcement for a long time. I enjoy the company of police officers,” he said. “The toughest thing (will be) not having daily contact” with them, said Freitas from his home. “The world looks different when looking from the inside of a police vehicle.”
As for the commission, which publicly censured the chief in January 2001, Ozaki said they were not allowed to comment on the personnel matter, but “they are echoing the mayor’s sentiments that wish the chief and his family well.”
As for the future, Freitas said that he has no plans whatsoever.
“My wife and I are taking a little trip in January. Then we’ll figure out” what to do next, he said.
Ozaki could not say who the acting police chief is, adding that the commission will make the decision on who will be both the acting chief and the next permanent chief.
KPD Deputy Police Chief William Ihu took Freitas’ place at the last few regular monthly Police Commission meetings. As the current second in command, there is speculation that he will be announced as the acting police chief within the next week.
Staff Writer Tom Finnegan may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 226).