LIHUE >> Kauai’s mayor and police chief are fighting over the top cop’s job, with the mayor saying he’s ready to go to court to keep the lawman off the beat.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. placed Chief Darryl Perry on leave earlier this month while the county investigated an employee complaint.
But Perry told The Garden Island newspaper that only the county police commission has the legal authority to place him on leave.
Today, he returned to work after the police commission unanimously voted that he should.
At police headquarters, Perry ordered assistant chief Mark Begley to open his office and reissue his equipment. But Begley replied the mayor and county attorney had given direct orders not to do that, Perry told Hawaii News Now.
"Right now, I’m actually on duty, but I don’t have any equipment with me. I can’t get in t my office. I don’t have access to my computer," said Perry, who was dressed in a tan and grey aloha shirt instead of a blue police uniform.
He also never received his gun and badge.
The mayor issued a statement saying he has the authority to place Perry on leave and is comfortable defending that position in court. Carvalho said Perry himself wanted the county to place him on leave.
Carvalho enclosed a copy of a Jan. 30 email message from Perry to police commission members asking them to urge the mayor’s office to approve his request to be put on leave without delay.
In the email Perry said he wanted to be put on leave because of his involvement in a "hostile working environment" complaint filed by an officer against an assistant police chief.
Carvalho said Perry will remain on leave "until we have discussed and agreed upon terms of his return."
"It is also my strong belief that we should not rush into decisions in the middle of such a highly sensitive set of circumstances — where there are more than just the interests of Chief Perry involved," Carvalho said.
Perry said he was suspended from Feb. 1 until Feb. 7 "for insubordination and dereliction of duty." He said he was then placed on paid leave starting Feb. 8.
"I can’t go into details as to why that occurred," Perry said. "What I can say is, based on the county charter, I believe the mayor and the managing director exceeded their authority in placing me on suspension."
Perry became police chief in 2007.
Perry, who grew up in Lihue, started his nearly four-decade career in law enforcement as a Kauai police officer. He later moved to Oahu and joined the Honolulu Police Department.
At HPD, Perry commanded the Juvenile Services, Narcotics-Vice and Criminal Investigations units. He also worked with the state attorney general’s office investigating Internet crimes against children.