Q: During the recent open budget hearing there were concerns expressed over the use of TASERs. I know that you already mentioned why they were being purchased, and that it’s a useful tool, but is there anything else that I should be worried about?
• Mac, Waipouli
A: I have nothing more to add except to say that TASERs will be an essential and effective tool in our continuum of force policy. KPD is not about punishing individuals for alleged crimes; our job is to bring them before the magistrate and/or jury who will decide their guilt or innocence and render appropriate sanctions.
The most recent police brutality video of a Philadelphia police department that depicted 15 police officers using their night sticks to beat civilians illustrates how things can go wrong in an instant without proper training and supervision.
Perhaps in this situation, the use of TASERs would have been more appropriate; perhaps not. But I can assure you that had TASERs been used, injuries would have been kept to a bear minimum and the situation would have been much more controlled.
KPD currently has effective and strict use of force policies in place.
Another thing to consider is that Kaua‘i is not that “sleepy, little town” anymore, and KPD must be prepared for all situations, including hostage-taking, active shooter scenarios, terrorism and the like.
Several years ago, I remember a domestic violence case in which a male barricaded himself and held his estranged wife and children hostage and threatened to kill them.
After many hours of negotiation, the male finally came out with a large knife and threatened the officers. It was later learned that he wanted the officers to shoot him — suicide by cop — because he felt he had nothing to live for. Fortunately, the officers used their TASERs and the suspect was subdued. Neither he nor the victims were hurt, and the officers were able to go home without the guilt that often haunts them for years of having had to kill someone.
I really don’t know how much clearer I can make the case for TASERs. This is just one scenario; there are many others where TASERs are very effective. If those individuals who are against TASERs don’t believe me, then perhaps they could make inquiries with emergency room practitioners on the behavior of someone high on crystal methamphetamine, crack cocaine, and/or PCP who are violent and resistant to pain compliance.
Q: I heard that you are doing away with the School Resource Officer program. Is this true? And what are your plans for the KPAL program?
• John, Waimea
A: Funny you should ask those questions because those were the topics of concern at this week’s Police Commission meeting.
To answer the question about SROs, no, that is not true; we are not doing away with the program. We are one officer short for Waimea High School because Sergeant Paul Applegate was promoted. I am not insensitive to the needs of our high schools, and for that reason, we have adjusted schedules. As KPD continues to add more officers to its ranks, the vacant position will be filled.
This also holds true for our KPAL involvement. Right now officer Mark Ozaki is doing a stellar job for our youth programs, and I support him wholeheartedly.
I am literarily wracking my brains trying to figure out how to get additional police to help without breaking the bank and/or compromising beat coverage.
I do realize that KPAL is necessary and needed for our “at risk” children because, for some of them, the mentoring they receive from coaches can be life-changing. It can be the difference between being involved in a life of crime or becoming a very successful and contributing citizen.
I can assure you that I am working diligently on finding a solution.
On another note, I want to personally thank everyone for celebrating Police Week with us. For those of you who had an opportunity to tour our headquarters, I hope you now have a better understanding of what we do; but more importantly, I hope you have a better appreciation for the employees of KPD.
Please keep our officers in your prayers for their safe return from duty.
• Darryl Perry is the chief of police at the Kaua‘i Police Department. Send your comments or questions to email@example.com