Back to business at Police Commission

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Police Commission was back to business Friday morning with Police Chief Darryl Perry present and in command of the police department.

In his report, Perry said the 82nd recruiting class is set to begin May 1, and he expects up to 11 recruits.

Perry noted that the department’s top priority was achieved, that of hiring two criminalists, better known as ID technicians.  

The priorities that continue to wait include creating two new beats in Kawaihau and Lihu‘e. This will  require about 14 new officers with the new district offices, Perry told the commission.

Another priority is to hire a lieutenant and two detectives to form a permanent internal affairs unit. Perry said the positions continue operating as a rotational assignment.

After meeting with the mayor on the department’s proposed 2012 budget, Perry said the final appropriations would be discussed at the April Kaua‘i County Council meeting.

Perry said the long-term challenge is to work with the county Human Resources Department and the mayor to ensure that qualified recruits continue to be processed.

There are 25 spots to be filled, and he said three recruiting classes are needed over the next two years to ensure replacement of retiring officers leaving the ranks.

Commissioner Randall Francisco said the commission should play a more active role in advocating for the needs of the department.

He said with bigger departments like Honolulu having difficulty hiring,  Kaua‘i must do more to attract qualified candidates.

The Kaua‘i Police Employees of the Month for March are Officer’s Darrin Irimata and Ginny Pia.

Acting Lt. Kenneth P. K. Cummings of the Waimea District cited Irimata’s keen observation and memory in recent investigations, and said he is honored in part for five recent arrests of intoxicated drivers.

Irimata also responded to the Jan. 4 robbery of the Koloa Chevron station.

He followed through on a hunch based on the description of one suspect from the store night manager. After matching the vehicle description Irimata identified the male suspect, who the manager later confirmed in a photo lineup. This led to the apprehension of the remaining three suspects.

Cummings also noted a jewelry store theft in May 2011, where Irimata identified a female suspect from a photo two weeks after viewing the video surveillance recording.

An arrest was made based on matching hair and Irimata’s observation of the jewelry that was reported stolen.

Assistant Chief Roy Asher spoke for Ginny Pia, an officer in the Vice and Narcotics Section.

She was not present because of the sensitivity of her investigations, he said.

Asher said Pia was recognized for the arrests of three suspects and for seizing $24,000 in cash during a significant federal case.

Commissioner Francisco extend thanks to the officers on behalf of the business community.

He said their acts are reassuring to business owners who fear crime more during times of economic downturns.

Deputy Chief Michael M. Contrades presented a plaque to Perry for his nomination and support to attend the FBI National Academy.

 He said that without Perry’s recommendation, he would not have been among the 1 percent of law enforcement officers nationwide who are invited to attend.

Commissioner Charles lona noted that Contrades was honored with  the Excellence in Leadership award for the 248th FBI Academy Class.

The award was the result of a vote from 257 classmates.

Contrades said the award came from his peers at the conclusion of the Leadership in Law Enforcement class.

 “I was very honored by the presentation,” Contrades told the commission.

In his  report Perry also recognized Sgt. Paul Applegate, who received a letter of commendation for his presentations to the state Public Library System.

Perry noted the 25 years of service from recently retired Lt. Eric Shibuya.

He said that internal affairs and polygraph expert Lt. Ezra Kanoho will also retire April 1.

“He gave a lot of himself,” Perry added.

Special Assignment Officer Christina A. Soltren has resigned to spend more time with her family, Perry added. “She has done exceptional work as a patrol officer, mostly on the North Shore,” he said.

The commission went into closed executive session to discuss complaints filed in February. One complaint from January against an officer was sustained by the commission and forwarded to the chief.

The next Police Commission meeting is scheduled April 27.

The “back to business” nature of this month’s meeting followed weeks of turmoil after the mayor first suspended Perry Feb. 1 and then placed the police chief on paid leave a week later, with a Police Commission vote sending Perry back to work on Feb. 22.

It was not until March 12 that the mayor announced Perry was no longer on paid leave.

• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or tlaventure@thegardenisland.com.

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