island breath

Toward a Kaua‘i police mission statement

by Juan Wilson

In the May 7 issue of Kauai People Joan Conrow interviewed Darryl Perry, the recently appointed Chief of the Kauai Police Department.

She writes: “Perry is essentially overhauling the entire department, starting with reassessing all its policies and procedures and familiarizing employees with the KPD’s mission statement…”

A mission is based on an overarching vision of the purpose of the enterprise. If chief Perry is intent on a major overhaul of the KPD, we need to know his vision and how well it conforms with the current KPD Mission. It may be that both need adjustment to achieve a positive change for Kaua‘i.

Living on an isolated tropical island does not mean we don’t need police. But we do not have to emulate the militarized police of big cities on the Mainland.

Certainly, the brave men and women of the KPD are not afraid to be without a loaded gun while they sip coffee or have a plate lunch with us. Heck, we civilians are not wearing guns. I’m sure the police would get more respect and cooperation from the public if they didn’t either.

Our police should be experts in mediation, and consensus building, not crowd control and counter-terrorism. I certainly don’t mind us buying our finest some cool gear, just let it be stuff they can use every day to make our lives better.

Let’s move the officers out of their bloated gas-guzzlers and into some sporty electric golf carts. Let’s buy them bicycles — good ones. We could do with a few horse-mounted police too. I would recommend the police be equipped with top-of-the-line GPS systems, smart phones, and digital recording devices. High tech — not highly lethal.

Integrity, compassion and aloha

In the overhaul of our police department, we should consider adding “integrity,” “compassion” and the “spirit of aloha” to the mission statement. If we take the words seriously and in context, specific words do matter. In trying to better understand the mission of the KPD, I found it enlightening to do a comparison with other Hawaiian police departments.

The KPD mission statement follows the pattern of police departments of Honolulu and Maui with its dedication to the principles of “respect, service and fairness.” But, I was surprised, that among the principles specified, the KPD does not include “integrity” (listed first by HPD and MPD) or “compassion” (listed second by MPD).

Perhaps more significantly, a review of the mission statements for all Hawaiian police departments reveals that Kaua‘i’s is the only one that does not include the ideal of “the spirit of aloha.” 

Mission is the message

The Big Island Police Department has the briefest mission statement in the state:

“The employees of the Hawaii Police Department are committed to preserving the spirit of aloha. We will work cooperatively with the community to enforce the laws, preserve peace, and provide a safe environment.”

Perhaps I am reading too much into the KPD mission, but I keep finding it emphasized by Chief Perry. On the homepage of the KPD Web site, Perry writes: “The Kauai Police Department’s mission statement is the foundation of who we are and what we are about … on our island-home we marvel at the beauty that surrounds us and we take pride in keeping Kaua‘i a safe and peaceful community. But we also understand that there are social issues that require law enforcement presence…”

Does this imply that beyond maintaining the peace and safety on Kaua‘i, there is another agenda related to “social issues”? What are they? I hope it’s not suppressing Hawaiian sovereignty groups; providing speculators security for unwanted development; enforcing the return of the Superferry; or protecting the pesticide spraying of GMO corporations on the Westside. 


There are trends in American society that are distorting and blending the roles of police, military and business. This role-morphing has eroded our civil rights. Some obviously dangerous examples are:

Military as business:

The Hawaii Superferry is on the surface a money-losing civilian ferry operation. Below the surface it is a program of experimental ship building, designed to meet the needs of inter-branch military logistics in the Pacific with a Joint High Speed Vessel — JHSV. The program is funded by civilian state and federal dollars and is operated by a board of ex-military professionals. Billions are at stake.

Police as business:

The Superferry operates with no EIS as the result of a business conspiracy. The KPD was provided as its security detail, even though our County Council had passed a resolution recommending the EIS be completed before the ferry come to Kaua‘i. By order of Gov. Linda Lingle, the KPD was then brought under the Unified Command and used to arrest demonstrators defying the Superferry.

Business as police:

The Correctional Corporation of America operates a private prison system with over 75,000 “residents.” They have been accused of lobbying for longer mandatory prison sentences as punishment for minor crimes like marijuana use. Almost one in 100 Americans are in prison.

Police as military:

Special Weapons And Tactics (S.W.A.T.) teams are in almost every town in America. These police want to be equipped with cool black outfits, assault rifles, Kevlar vests and armored Hummers … and they’re getting them.

Military as police:

All we need say are the words “Guantanamo” or “Abu Ghraib.”

The various mixes of police/military/business result in the protection of corporate profits, control of civilian populations and expansion of military domination. We have a name for this — it is called a Police State. That is a situation in which the police are not on your side. There is no room for that in this, the Aloha State.

• Juan Wilson is a resident of Hanapepe and writes a bi-weekly column for The Garden Island. Juan is an architect-planner and the editor of


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