HONOLULU (kHON2) — Joining KHON2 from the Valley Isle is Maui Police Dept. Chief John Pelletier, covering the island’s approach to concealed-carry permits, and the evolution of 21-century policing for Maui County.

KHON: Maui was the first county to issue concealed carry permits after the U.S Supreme Court mandated our state and others change their procedures. How was that able to happen so efficiently on Maui when other counties took a little bit longer, or in one case still haven’t even issued any yet?

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PELLETIER: When the Bruin decision came down and some of the states had to make those changes, we had some tweaking to do, but we already had a CCW permit process in place. And so we simply enacted what we already had. We had incredible leadership, our records manager, she had the foresight to anticipate some of these challenges. We started to line these things up. Something interesting to think about, before the decision, we had six applications for the calendar year. Since the decision, we’ve had almost 500, and so we needed to make sure that we were able to anticipate as these things were building up. Right now we’re at about 120 days or so from the time you put the application in to the time that we can get the application processed. Year to date, we have 14 that we’ve issued.

KHON: How are your officers prepared for the challenges that might come along with more people carrying firearms legally in public?

PELLETIER: We in law enforcement, we have an obligation to make sure that our members of our agency are the best trained, the most prepared to handle any situation, and that includes those that are carrying firearms. But my bigger concern as the chief is to make sure that the 250 firearms that we’ve seized year to date, those individuals that shouldn’t be having firearms, or are using firearms to commit felonious crimes or violent crimes aren’t able to do so.

KHON: Our viewers in Maui County will appreciate hearing your perspectives on taking over a department from a chief who left under some difficult circumstances. You come in, a new place, new chief, new place for you. How are you navigating the leadership challenges that go along with changing locations, and being the new boss in a department that’s had its troubles?

PELLETIER: That’s a really great question, Gina. I appreciate the way you asked it, and let me just say these challenges are opportunities. And Maui PD has incredible opportunities to progress and to grow and to be a model agency, not just for the state, but for the nation. We’re going to get there. One of the things that the profession has done, the policing profession, is they haven’t really liked change so much. And I’ll just use bulletproof vest as an example. So MPD, we mandate in uniform that officers wear their vests, but there are numerous police departments nationally, internationally, that don’t. We know that bulletproof vests save lives, but folks don’t want to change. But we know that change is healthy is good, and that’s how we grow. One of the things that’s imperative that we do in policing, is that we adapt 21st-century policing principles. These are almost 10 years old, but there are six pillars of them. One of them is trust, and transparency, and another one is community partnership and engagement. We’ve actually knocked on doors and we’ve asked citizens, what do you want from the police department? How are we doing for you? What changes can we do to help you feel safer and more secure in your community? And it’s gone over very well.

KHON: Are you finding that approach, as you can get to people one by one, is changing the mood internally and changing the receptivity internally, in the places where it was icy?

PELLETIER: Absolutely, because the more that we spend time, the more we know each other, the more we understand each other, the more we build together, the more we grow together — the stronger, the tighter, the closer we’re going to be. We’ve got our best days ahead of us. And we came out of a couple tumultuous years with COVID and the events from the midwest of the country and some of the events that we saw in 2020. We’re just going to move forward because this is an incredible profession.

KHON: Maui PD is pioneering “rapid deploy” that’s going to allow for video and text to 911. It’s really quite incredible, the first county to do it here. How’s that going to be a game-changer?

PELLETIER: It is a game changer, and it works like this: You can actually text 911. If you’re a victim of domestic violence, let’s just say and you can’t make that phone call, because the suspect could hear, you can text and you can say that you need help and where you’re at. And there’s up to 70 different languages that you can text from. You can live video where you’re at, and it’ll capture the video. So first responders can come to you. Maui County dispatch, the dispatching that we have at MPD, we’re responsible for dispatching not just police, but also fire and medical personnel. So that’ll help us get the services to those that are most in need quicker and more efficiently.

KHON: Anything else you want to say to the people at home on Maui?

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PELLETIER: Yes, I’d like to say we’re hiring. Come join us if you’re looking for an extremely exciting opportunity. If you’re looking to be part of something bigger than yourself, the policing profession offers incredible opportunities. We respond to people in need and crisis and crime and strife. We have opportunities for both sworn and non-sworn, so if you want to be a dispatcher, or a member of the CSI and investigate crime scenes, we’d love to have you, and the website is www.mauipolice.com.