Kauai police chief wants to change public perception with transparency


Transparency: Kauai Police Department’s promise to the community.

Chief Darryl Perry wants to change the public’s perception of police officers.

Perry invited several media outlets to Kauai to experience real-life scenarios that law enforcement deal with, including the controversial topic of “use of force.”

Officers are often forced to make split second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.

Sometimes, the decisions aren’t popular, which is why Perry wanted to open the curtain to the public so they could get a glimpse of their training procedures.

“There’s this negative – and it’s nationwide – perception of police officers,” explained Perry. “That we’re a closed society. That we’re trying to hide, and nothing could be further from the truth. We’re here to serve the people. Sometimes we get a bad rep from a few individuals who does something not appropriate.”

Kauai police put reporter Brigette Namata through a crash course on how recruits learn “use of force” defined by The International Association of Chiefs of Police as “the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by a subject.”

Each department nationwide has their own policies.

KPD officers are trained to de-escalate the situation.

“Sometimes it happens in a split second, and you have to assess everything in a split second and respond accordingly. But when the situation escalates to a point where the officer feels the threat is severe and imminent, not only to himself, but to others, then that’s the last thing you ever want to do. We’re not trigger happy people. Not only do we have to take appropriate action, but when you do use deadly force, it has a psychological impact on the individual. On not only [the officer], but it impacts his family, his friends and everything comes with it. That’s the absolute last thing we want to do. It doesn’t help anybody,” said Perry.

He admits some decisions police make aren’t popular with the community, and with the exception of ongoing investigations, “I want to make sure that the public knows we are open and honest, and we have absolutely nothing to hide.”

Kauai City Council Chair Mel Rapozo says he appreciates KPD’s quest for transparency.

“Especially in today’s world where police departments are highly scrutinized, I give [Perry] credit for fielding these questions. It’s not always pleasant,” Rapozo said. “I believe the chief should be out in the community, willing to take those questions on and answer appropriately. If it’s not happening in the other counties, I would suggest it start. That just creates a better sense of confidence in the community.”

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