Maui Police Dept. internally investigating if traffic section misused money

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Maui police are investigating allegations of theft and misuse of money by one of the divisions, when it was run by a now-retired lieutenant.  The fact that an internal administrative inquiry is underway is just part of the story. It took years beyond when initial red-flags were raised to make that happen, and allegations of improper deeds go beyond just money.

Always Investigating has confirmed that MPD’s Traffic section is under the microscope with an internal administrative investigation involving misuse of funds.

Sources say it’s connected to whistleblower allegations that surfaced about 3 years ago, as part of a routine staff survey the department has to do for national accreditation. Traffic section officers told higher-ups a lieutenant was falsifying hazard pay, padding overtime and travel time, and getting freebies like food and sunglasses while on the job in uniform. Traffic grant money was allegedly being mismanaged

The police department’s spokesperson told KHON2 that administrative investigation is underway and that “the purpose… is to validate these allegations and take appropriate action, if necessary. At this time no criminal charges have been filed.”

But it’s been years since the issues surfaced, and a whistleblower report Always Investigating obtained says there was lackluster response until the matter was escalated to the mayor’s office and Maui Police Commission. The lieutenant in question has since retired, but some are calling for more accountability from the chief.

A recent Police Commission letter Always Investigating verified said the “complaint warranted a full investigation.”

While MPD is tracking money issues, the allegations go beyond dollars and cents. Staff allege there was crime-scene mishandling, including the deadly Hana highway crash involving bickering twin sisters who went over a cliff, resulting in a homicide investigation. Surveys we obtained said the traffic division didn’t properly involve the criminal division until a full day after the suspicious crash, leading to attempts to move the vehicle and potential crime scene too soon.

Staff alleged the former lieutenant played favorites when busting intoxicated drivers, ordering officers to let a friend go, and to not arrest another friend’s son.

Surveys expressed concern about officers being released too soon from a deadly hit and run scene, with the supervisor supposedly saying of the victim: “It’s not like the guy was an outstanding citizen.”

We asked Maui police if the other allegations of crime-scene mishandling and drunk-driver leniency will also be looked into, since the internal investigation right now is just focusing on money issues. We’re awaiting response from the Maui Police Commission on whether and when they’ll take up the matter.

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