Beleaguered police chief
on Kauai says he will retire
George Freitas will receive
$200,000 in compensation
LIHUE >> Kauai Police Chief George Freitas, who has battled for more than two years to keep his job, announced yesterday that he will retire Oct. 31.
Freitas stopped short of saying he was forced out by Mayor Bryan Baptiste.
STAR-BULLETIN / JUNE 2002|
Kauai Police Chief George Freitas will retire Oct. 31.
"Was I contacted about retiring or did I initiate the contact? I was contacted," Freitas said.
Sources said Freitas was asked to retire on the day he returned from his honeymoon in the summer.
Freitas' attorneys and the county's lawyers have negotiated his severance package over a period of months. He will receive $200,000 to compensate him for taking early retirement, according to Baptiste's office.
Freitas, who turned 60 Monday, said the county has agreed to continue to provide him legal representation in several lawsuits pending against the department in which he is a named defendant.
Among the lawsuits in which Freitas is named is one filed by his former secretary. Freitas fired her for conducting an allegedly illegal search of his office in 2001 when he was suspended. She claims she was protected by the whistle-blower law.
Also pending is a lawsuit against Freitas filed by a Kauai police sergeant who claimed he was assaulted by a lieutenant he had accused of being involved in organized crime. The sergeant claims in the lawsuit that Freitas failed to investigate the incident.
Freitas also is named in a lawsuit filed by former Kauai police Lt. Alvin Seto, whose allegations against Freitas set off the lengthy administrative proceedings against the chief. Seto has retired but claims in his lawsuit that Freitas forced him out of the department.
Freitas said he plans to continue to live on Kauai. A native of Oahu, Freitas is retired from the Richmond Police Department in California. His wife, Elizabeth, also a retired Richmond officer, has established a private investigation agency on Kauai.
The Kauai police chief is hired by the Police Commission rather than the mayor. But under the County Charter, the mayor appoints the commission and serves on the commission, and the county attorney who advises the Police Commission is hired by the mayor.
Freitas was hired in 1995, the first year of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka's eight-year tenure. But he was hired by a Police Commission made up entirely of appointees of former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura and later said he never received support from Kusaka.
Baptiste, who is Kusaka's protege, similarly was not openly supportive of Freitas since taking office in December.
Freitas was placed on paid suspension in 2001 after a series of charges were filed against him by Seto.
After a six-month investigation involving interviews with more than 160 police employees, the commission -- by then all Kusaka appointees -- found Freitas guilty of two minor violations of the Kauai Police Department's code of conduct. Kusaka, a non-voting member of the police commission, attended all of its deliberations on Freitas.
The commissioners said he allowed a civilian, his then-girlfriend and now his wife, to ride in his unmarked police car while not on police business. And they said he violated another portion of the code by being disrespectful to a subordinate by yelling at him.
Freitas was allowed to return to work in January 2002 and was issued the two written reprimands on Feb. 13, 2002.
Freitas filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Honolulu against the county, the mayor, the commission and county attorney. The lawsuit ultimately was dismissed because Freitas never was fired and never lost any pay or benefits.