Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry wants to return to Oahu to run a department that he believes is in need of competent leadership after years of scandal.
Perry, a 66-year-old Kauai native, is one of an estimated 30 candidates who have submitted an application to be Honolulu’s next police chief.
He spent 30 years working at the Honolulu Police Department. He has been the chief of the Kauai Police Department since Oct. 1, 2007.
If Perry gets the HPD job he’ll inherit a department that’s been gripped by controversies both big and small that have cost city taxpayers millions of dollars in legal settlements and tarnished the reputation of the largest police force in the state.
The department’s last chief, Louis Kealoha, retired in February after he became a central figure in a public corruption investigation that’s being spearheaded by the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Several other officers have also been implicated in potential wrongdoing.
Perry said it’s been hard for him to ignore all the headlines related to the federal investigation. But he also said he knows that there are good people working at HPD who can help salvage the department’s image, a process he acknowledges will take time.
“The department is in a state of need and I want to do my very best to help,” Perry said in an interview outside of KPD headquarters Wednesday. “It’s going to take lots of work. We’re going to have to change the complete mindset and the culture of the organization. But there are great people at HPD and working together I know we can do it.”
Perry told Civil Beat he was a candidate for HPD chief shortly after hosting a media event for Hawaii reporters in which his officers discussed the Kauai department’s body camera program and provided first-hand training simulations to explain police use of force.
The Kauai Police Department, which employs about 150 sworn officers, has been one of the more progressive law enforcement agencies in the state in recent years, embracing the use of de-escalation techniques and body-worn cameras in an attempt to reduce conflicts on the street and increase transparency surrounding police actions.
As a result of the body cam program, KPD officials say they’ve seen a sharp decrease in the amount of time it takes to investigate frivolous complaints against its officers.
“The (Honolulu) department is in a state of need and I want to do my very best to help.” — Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry
They’ve also watched the number of reported use of force incidents dwindle from 37 in 2015 to only 11 in 2016. So far this year KPD has only reported two occasions in which officers have reported using force during the course of their duties.
Perry said he would like to implement some of the tactics he’s been using on Kauai in Honolulu as well. He describes KPD as a microcosm of the other departments in the state, and said that recent events at HPD are what caused him to reach out to the press.
He said the ongoing problems at HPD have placed a stigma on the other departments on the neighbor islands. The national conversation, too, has exacerbated that feeling of mistrust.
“What I wanted to do was get rid of all those barriers and start with a clean slate,” Perry said. “Let’s start working together as better partners because we’re after the same thing, which is the truth and getting information out to the public.”
The Honolulu Police Commission hopes to hire a new HPD chief by July or August.