Mayor’s authority to sideline chief questioned

LIHU‘E — Questions have been raised as to whether Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. violated the Kaua‘i County Charter when he, not the Kaua‘i Police Commission, placed Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Darryl Perry on leave Wednesday pending an investigation into an employee-generated complaint involving KPD’s top brass.

“I asked this question to Kaua‘i County Boards and Commissions today,” Patrick Stack, the new chair of the Charter Review Commission, said Thursday. “I’m told the mayor has authority, but I’m not sure that’s true. I’m going to study this and send a bunch of questions to the county attorney.”

KPD assistant chiefs Roy Asher and Ale Quibilan, who were named in the internal complaint, were placed on leave effective Tuesday. Perry was placed on leave Wednesday. Following a press conference late Thursday, the mayor said that he had consulted with the Police Commission about placing Perry on leave, but that it was his decision and discretion to do so.

Carvalho cited Section 7.05 of the charter as the source of his authority.

The charter’s Section 7.05 (A) states that “except as otherwise provided,” the mayor has direct supervision over all departments.

Furthermore, Section 11.04 states that the chief of police, who “shall be appointed by the Police Commission,” may be removed by the commission only after being given a written statement of the charges against him and a hearing before the commission.

The Garden Island attempted to gain clarification on the charter’s rules from commissioners on Thursday morning. A commissioner and a commission staff member said they had just received a directive from the mayor’s executive assistant Beth Tokioka to defer all inquiries to her office.

County Council Chair Jay Furfaro also did not clarify whether the mayor has the authority to place the police chief on leave.

“That’s a question for Al Castillo,” Furfaro said. “He is the mayor’s attorney.”

Castillo returned a phone call from The Garden Island staff, but the staff was unable to get a hold of  him by press time.

Councilman Mel Rapozo, a former KPD officer, said he is also waiting for an opinion he requested from Castillo.

“It is unclear to me whether the mayor has the authority to place commission-appointed department heads on administrative leave,” Rapozo said.

County boards and commissions in general are appointed to take the politics out of the daily operations of departments such as police, fire, planning and personnel, he said.

“It would defeat this purpose if the administration is allowed to place commission-appointed department heads on administrative leave, whether paid or not,” Rapozo said.

Stack called the charter a complicated document.

“It involves a recipe for how we govern ourselves in this county,” Stack said. “I’m as anxious as everybody else for answers.”

• Vanessa Van Voorhis, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 251, or by emailing vvanvoorhis@thegardenisland.com. Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 252, or lazambuja@thegardenisland.com.

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