LIHUE — Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry has his eyes set on leading the department in the city where his career in law enforcement began — Honolulu.
“Sometimes, you just know when to move on. I feel at this point in my long, illustrious career, it’s time to move on,” he said.
Perry, 66, has been at the helm of KPD for almost a decade. He started his law enforcement career in the Honolulu Police Department in 1972 when he was 21.
He believes he can guide HPD into becoming a police force the public can trust.
“There’s no doubt about it that HPD has very good people, from the very top to the officers on the road and civilians,” he said. “What happened to Chief (Louis) Kealoha is unfortunate, but it happens.”
Kealoha retired in February after he became the subject of an FBI investigation involving a mailbox theft.
Cary Okimoto is acting HPD chief. The Honolulu Police Commission hopes to hire a new HPD chief by the end of the summer.
The HPD chief is in charge of almost 2,000 sworn officers and makes $182,088 annually. For FY 2016-2017, the department had a budget of $259.5 million.
Last fiscal year, KPD had an operating budget of about $14.5 million. Perry oversees about 150 sworn officers and makes $127,313 a year.
He concedes his goal to promote public trust in HPD won’t be easy.
“It’ll be hard, but I’ve been in difficult situations before, and I’m confident I can develop those relationships,” Perry said.
He considers restoring the public’s trust in his officers on Kauai to be one of his proudest achievements.
“Accomplishments internally mean nothing if the public doesn’t have confidence in what we do,” he said. “We can have the best equipment, but if the public doesn’t trust us, we’re not a part of the community. We become apart, separate from the community.”
One way to restore public trust is to bring HPD’s operations together to strive for that common goal, he said.
“So you work internally first to set the foundation that we’re in this together to help the public, and the next part of that is to go out into the community and talk to whoever wants to listen to me about the police department and explain we’re going to be as open and transparent as we can,” Perry said.
Four years after joining HPD in 1972, Perry moved to Kauai, where he worked as a KPD patrol officer for three years. He then moved back to Honolulu to get a college degree, and while in school, he worked as a police officer.
After retiring from HPD in 2002, he returned to Kauai, and applied for the chief position twice before getting the job in 2007.
“The second time, I wasn’t going to apply, but my friends told me I may regret it down the line,” he said.
“You have regrets and disappointments. Everyone is going to be disappointed at one time or another, but you want to limit your regrets.”
He said he didn’t want to regret not applying, so he made it his mission to prepare for the interview.
“I decided there wasn’t going to be anything I couldn’t answer, so for the next eight months, I really got my act together and prepared like I was going in for some big exam.”
But more than that, Perry said he applied for the job as a way to carry on the legacy of his son who died when he was 26.
“He told me one thing before he passed away — he wanted to help people, but he couldn’t,” Perry said.
“So one of the motivating factors for me to apply at KPD was to carry on the wishes of my son — to help others, because he wasn’t able to do that.”
Perry applied for HPD chief in March. He said he won’t be too upset if he doesn’t get the job.
“That would mean they found someone who could do a better job than me,” he said.
But whether he would stay with KPD or retire is still up in the air, Perry said.
“With the sunset of my career, and the accomplishments we collectively made, KPD is in a good place now, and I feel confident that we can pass the baton to the next chief, and he or she can take it to the next level,” he said.