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Police seek victims of alleged misconduct by officer

After saying they are investigating a report that a Maui Police Department officer sent text messages and made a phone call offering to help a woman he arrested for drunken driving, police are asking that anyone who had a similar experience with the officer to come forward.

Police said Tuesday that detectives are investigating allegations of misconduct involving potential abuse of authority by the officer after receiving information from a Hawaii News Now reporter.

According to a Hawaii News Now story that aired Tuesday, the woman alleged that the officer sent her text messages and called her after arresting her for DUI in the early-morning hours of July 25. The officer invited the woman to his house and offered to testify in a way that would help her if her case went to trial, according to the news report.

Police said the Criminal Investigation Division obtained text messages and voice recordings that support the allegations against the officer. The offenses being investigated include attempted perjury, first-degree hindering prosecution and tampering with a witness, police said.

Police said they wouldn’t release the name of the officer, who has been with the department for four years. He is on vacation, police said Tuesday.

On Wednesday, MPD posted a public service announcement video related to the investigation on its Facebook page.

In the video, Detective Lee Ann Galario-Guzman says, “In response to the comments being made on social media, we want to let the Maui community know that we are concerned about recent revelations within the department.

“We ask that anyone who may have had similar experiences with officer (Brandon) Saffeels contact Detective Matt Bigoss” by email at Matthew.Bigoss@mpd.net.

“Your Maui Police Department holds the safety of our community in the highest regard,” Galario-Guzman says. “We will investigate all claims of abuse made against our officers.”

Court records show that charges were dismissed without prejudice Tuesday against the 29-year-old Kahului woman who was arrested for DUI by the officer after a crash. She had been charged with habitually driving under the influence of an intoxicant, inattention to driving and not having automobile insurance.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at lfujimoto@mauinews.com.