The Chief's Corner



On March 4, 2014, Tuesday, a traffic fatality occurred just south of Kilauea on Kuhio Highway that took the life of Mr. Sam Mitzel.   As a result, the roads were closed for about six hours while the investigation of the crime scene was being conducted.

Since that time, the Kauai Police Department has received several mean-spirited complaints related to the length of time of the road closure. The complaints ranged from KPD’s incompetence in conducting the investigation, not being able to go home to have dinner, to missing their favorite T.V. show. Other complaints related to missing flights to the mainland, to which I was very apologetic.

This was an unusual investigation because of its complexity. It was not an isolated scene.   As a result, the processing required an exorbitant amount of time to identify and recover all of the evidence. Additionally, the force of the impact presented logistical challenges that required a multi-departmental response.
Even with a rapid response team, coupled with the best trained officers, with technologically advanced equipment the difficulty the officers faced cannot be overstated.

For a lay person it is hard to understand what exactly KPD does at a crime scene and for that I can understand the frustration of not being able to get to where you want to go.

But we must also remember that even though we were inconvenienced, delayed, and may have missed our flight, we will still wake up tomorrow and be able to hug one another , to have another birthday, Christmas, and enjoy other very special moments with our families.

Those moments are no longer a reality for this young man, his family and friends; they alone will have to bare the loss and sorrow for the rest of their lives.

I have never shared any of these complaints with the victims’ families because I know it would break their hearts to think that people could be so indifferent, calloused, and heartless.

But they can be comforted in knowing that KPD’s mandate has always been to do what is right for the victim, and that would be to conduct the best investigation possible.   Otherwise, we would be just as culpable.

Darryl D. Perry
Chief of Police

Questions for the Chief

Dear Chief Perry,
            On March 4, 2014, a fatality occurred that required the closure of Kuhio Highway in Kilauea at mile marker 21 for about six hours. Why can’t police clear the scene faster? Don’t you know that people missed their flights, and couldn’t get home? Kauai deserves better service than this.
Anonymous email
            I have addressed this concern over the past years, and we have improved our processing of scenes, but in some cases, due to the complexity of the event, more time is required.
            Below is an explanation I gave to a similar question about 5 years ago; and it holds true today. Also, until the State and/or County build alternate by-pass routes, communities will continue to face delays:
            This has been an on-going concern and I would venture to say that most jurisdictions are wrestling with the same issue. Early in my career I was a supervisor of a vehicle homicide team in Honolulu. Basically, the reason why roads are shutdown is to do a complete and thorough investigation. When these cases involve death or very serious bodily injury, police are mandated to treat the area as a crime scene. And as you know, these types of cases may be confined to a specific location, or stretch out for several miles (the longest crime scene I remember was about 6 miles long).
            I will not bore you with the complexities that are essential for this type of investigation, but I will tell you that our officers are highly trained in vehicle dynamics, accident reconstruction, crush analysis, recognizing induced versus contact damages, scale diagrams of the scene, speed calculations by determining coefficient of friction on the road surface, and the rest, not to mention information required of the injured parties, deceased person(s), witnesses, and suspect(s).
            In all cases, the victims and their families rely on the police to bring individuals who are responsible to justice. And frankly they deserve nothing less, because we, the police, are speaking for the victim, whose voice was silenced through someone’s negligence.
            Our investigators are very aware of the need to reopen the roadways as soon as possible and I can assure you that they are doing their very best to expedite the investigation. In addition, we continually explore more efficient methods to speed up the process so that the inconvenience to the public is minimized.
            The last thing I would want to do is to explain to the victim’s family that the reason for doing an incomplete investigation is because we had to reopen the crime scene prematurely. I know that you would agree with me, that on top of the grief the family is already experiencing, we, as a community, do not want to add a second injury.
Dear Chief Perry,
Q:        Recently there have been shooting incidents in schools, private companies, and other public venues where people are the most vulnerable. What is going on, and how do we keep safe?
A:        It is very difficult to assess what motivates an individual to commit such an act of violence. Historically we are familiar with the Xerox shooting on November 2, 1999. But more recently the Sandy Hook massacre involving elementary school children has brought home the fact that no place is sacred or completely safe from individuals with malice in their heart.
            For the past few years, the average active shooter incident was 5-15 per year, but experts predict an increase of 20-25 incidents annually.
So what do you do as a private citizen or government employee? 
There are certain things you should be made aware of, and questions you should ask so that you have a better chance for survival. First of all, you must prepare for the worse case scenario. While not inclusive, here are some considerations: 
1.            Within the organization, what safety measures or policies have been established to ensure your safety, and the safety of others?
2.            Are these policies practiced? Do you have evacuation drills? 
3.            Is there an escape plan?
4.            Are there dangerous choke points (meaning converging areas) that have been identified? 
5.            Is there a designated safe-room to barricade until help arrives?
Other preventive measures may be implemented to deter or at least minimize the risk to employees of government and/or private sector. As an example, consideration could be given to the hiring of security personnel and installation of a metal detector to preclude the possibility of firearms or other weapons entering into the premises. 
Hand-held metal detection wands may also be an option because they are less intrusive than a frisk.
I can assure you that in hostage situations and shootings of this nature, our Specialized Services Team are trained to respond appropriately to secure and if necessary, to neutralize the threat.  
While we will do everything in our power to keep you out of harm's way, you must, however, take responsibility for your own safety until we are able to respond.
Remember that the most dangerous thoughts are not that of the criminal—because their reality is distorted—it is instead the victim’s mindset of complacency believing that something as heinous as a shooting won’t happen here, and it won’t happen to me.
For additional information please view the link on our website related to active shooters.

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