Police Commission to review retired officers’ gun permits

LIHU‘E — The rights of retired police officers to carry concealed weapons could be a concern for uniformed officers who may not know them on the streets.

This, along with varying state standards under a federal law, was a leading topic of the Kaua‘i Police Commission meeting Friday.

The Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act of 2004 allows qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms in any jurisdiction, with exception to a few state or local laws. Retired officers have their qualifications verified by the last agency of employment and the state issues a photo ID from that approval.

The Kaua‘i issue was brought up by retired KPD officer Paul Baumung, who sent the commission a petition signed by 24 retired officers who claim they are being denied or discouraged from the ID process.

Baumung’s letter said Kaua‘i Police Department is proposing a two-year permit that requires annual physicals and psychological reports along access to mental health records. Retired officers who work at the airport carry firearms and he said they are not subject to the same requirements other than a background investigation.

KPD Chief Darryl Perry said the permit ID has state requirements with regards to firearms training, permits and annual mental health and criminal checks.

Perry said the department wants to craft a policy in a way that incorporates the state statues into their own general orders. He wants to protect the interests of officers and the liability issues of the county.

The psychological examinations ensure there is no diagnosis of a significant behavioral, mental or psychological disorder, Perry said. The police chief may also adopt policies that require retired officers to use weapons in a safe manner.

“We want to make sure that our retirees are qualified and not in violation of the statutes,” Perry said.

Commissioner Charles Iona, a retired police officer, said his concern was not to place the active officers in a position of confronting someone with a weapon and having trouble identifying them as a retired officer with a card.

“There is no uniformity among the states,” Iona said of the cards and standards. He would prefer that the Department of Homeland Security issue the cards to provide national uniformity.

There have already been instances in metropolitan areas where active and retired officers have died in friendly fire when responding to an incident, Iona said.

“I support this but there is so much to be worked out with the burden on the police departments,” Iona said. “I worry about the men and women we have now in the department.”

Perry said the deconfliction process is a way of coordinating various agencies that might run into each other on the job. He said they would look into working the retirees into something similar that exercises due diligence of laws and policies and works with the dispatchers.

Iona pointed out one conflict that could allow a retired officer with a card to continue carrying a gun even after being arrested for a crime. He said he wanted to ensure that requirements on officers were the same as civilian permits.

Other business

In other meeting business, Perry said the current pool of police applicants is down to 97.

After a physical readiness test and other administrative work they expect a class of 10 to 15 recruits to start the Academy in May.

Robert Abrew was the only member of the public to address the Commission in open session. He commented on the mayor’s actions to place the police chief on leave, calling it an abuse or misinterpretation of the charter.

Abrew said the mayor should have directed any communications from an internal complaint to the commissioners and called for a hearing on the matter. He also wanted the commission to look into if or why the complainants did not follow proper channels including the police officers union.

The next commission meeting will be  May 18 at 9 a.m., at the Mo‘ikeha Building in Lihu‘e.

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

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