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New chief picks deputy from Las Vegas

Residency requirements to be waived; county to cover moving expenses for incoming chief

Charles L. Hank III.

Incoming Maui Police Chief John Pelletier has chosen a fellow colleague of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to be his second in command.

In a recent letter sent to members of the Maui Police Department and obtained by The Maui News, Pelletier announced that he has selected Charles L. Hank III as deputy chief.

Hank has worked more than 30 years in law enforcement with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, where he was part of the executive staff leadership, Pelletier said in his letter.

“He has specialized knowledge and training that makes him uniquely qualified to be Deputy Chief,” said Pelletier, a 22-year veteran of the Las Vegas department and commander of the Major Violator/Narcotics Bureau.

Pelletier was confirmed last month as the new Maui police chief by the Maui Police Commission. He and Hank will be sworn in at an invitation-only ceremony at the Maui Police Department in Wailuku on Dec. 15.

Last month the commission waived a one-year residency requirement for Pelletier, who resides in Las Vegas.

Some in the department questioned the residency requirement that also pertains to Hank, who also has a Las Vegas address.

Corporation Counsel Moana Lutey said in an email Wednesday afternoon that Hawaii state laws on citizenship and residency for public service provide that the one-year residency requirement may be waived by the appointing authority in cases such as when the appointive officer is required to have highly specialized knowledge and training, and a qualified applicant who is a resident for at least one year is not available to fill the position.

She said that Pelletier, as the administrative head of the police department, under law has the ability to waive the residency requirement.

As the head of MPD, it is in Pelletier’s purview to establish the qualifications of his deputy, Lutey said.

Pelletier determined that that requirements of his deputy chief include: major event planning, air support, detention services management, strategy development and execution, 21st century policing and collaborative reform process.

Of the applicants for the deputy position, only Hank has all of the qualifications, Lutey said.

According to Hank’s resume, he has served as deputy chief and captain of different divisions and command areas, including in tourist safety division policing and policing the Las Vegas Strip. He has also had leadership and oversight of more than 1,000 employees and more than $100 million budgets.

From December 2017 until February 2020, Hank was an assistant sheriff of the Law Enforcement Administration and Detention Group.

At Wednesday’s Maui Police Commission meeting, members did not approve moving expenses for Hank, as suggested for discussion by commissioner Mark Redeker.

Chairman Frank De Rego Jr. said the commission did not have the authority to approve or even make a recommendation that the expenses be paid since it was not the appointing authority for the deputy chief.

But the commission did make a recommendation that moving expenses of $15,295.42 be reimbursed for Pelletier. The total represents expenses Pelletier submitted to the commission for review. This includes one-way airfare to Maui, the shipping of two vehicles and moving of furniture.

Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz said during the meeting that the ultimate decision on the budget and to reimburse expenses for Pelletier is up to Mayor Michael Victorino to decide.

As commissioners wrestled with the amount they wanted to recommend paying, Baz indicated that Victorino was supportive of some type of reimbursement.

De Rego at first said he only supported a cap of $5,000, as the county paying for moving expenses has historically been done for hard-to-find employees such as engineers.

De Rego said there was no shortage of applicants for the chief position, with 17 applying. He added that the police chief does have a car allowance as well, in reference to Pelletier shipping two vehicles over.

Applicants must also “have skin in the game,” he said, adding that he did not want to start a precedent of paying for moving expenses and also wanted to be responsible to the taxpayers as well.

However, the rest of the commissioners supported paying more than $5,000, noting the difficulty of finding vehicles on the island as well as furniture. Commissioner Travis Tancayo, a former Maui Fire Department employee, said he remembers not being reimbursed by the county for his moving expenses as he took promotions in the department around the county.

He said there are a lot of unseen costs with moving and recalled having to sleep on friends’ couches and borrow cars when times were hard.

All seven commissioners present, including De Rego, approved the recommendation for the $15,295.42 reimbursement for Pelletier.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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