Carvalho won’t say why top cops placed on leave

LIHU‘E — After two days of “no comment” from his office, Kaua‘i County Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. held a brief news conference Thursday to read a statement that did not answer why he placed County Police Chief Darryl Perry and two assistant chiefs on indeterminate leave this week.

“The county will not reveal any information about the content of the complaint, nor will we confirm or deny any information presented by others about the matter while the investigation is ongoing,” the mayor said, referring to what his office did confirm a day earlier — that the matter involved an employee complaint.

Darla Abbatiello-Higa, a KPD officer of 27 years, filed the internal complaint that led to the investigation, a source close to Abbatiello-Higa later said. The nature of the complaint had yet to be confirmed.

At the mayor’s news conference, Carvalho said the decisions to place the county’s top officers on leave “should not be construed to be disciplinary in nature.” He would not comment on whether the police chief or assistant chiefs had been placed on paid or unpaid leave.

“Reputations are at stake, and we must refrain from making premature judgments. I want to assure the public that these actions were not taken lightly, were made based on legal advice, and were made in the best interest of all involved,” Carvalho said.

In answer to questions Thursday as to whether the mayor has the authority, versus the county’s police commission, to place a police chief on leave, the mayor referred to Section 7.05 of the Kaua‘i County Charter.

“The bottom line is, I am the chief executive for the County of Kaua‘i, and I am ultimately responsible for the day-to-day operations of all administrative county departments and divisions,” he said.

Kaua‘i County Councilman Mel Rapozo, a former KPD officer, said it is unclear whether the mayor has the authority to place commission-appointed department heads on administrative leave.

The mayor’s office Wednesday night announced that Perry had been placed on leave —just one day after his two assistant chiefs were placed on leave.

No other KPD staff have been placed on leave, the mayor’s executive assistant, Beth Tokioka, said after the mayor’s news conference.

Perry told The Garden Island  Wednesday night that he had the “utmost trust” in the two assistant chiefs, Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan, and that: “About myself, my reputation speaks for itself. I’m about transparency. I’m about honesty. I’m about doing the right thing. I have not strayed from those values.”

Perry, too, declined to discuss the nature of the complaint that led to being placed on leave, although he did add, “This has implications beyond this organization.”

Deputy Police Chief Michael Contrades, who was named acting police chief in Perry’s absence, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Perry, a former Honolulu police officer who attained the rank of major in the criminal investigation division, has been Kauai‘is police chief since August 2007.

• Visit to read the full text of the mayor’s remarks.


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