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Mahalo: Council Honors Ferreira For Service as Police Chief

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Hawai‘i County Council Vice Chairman Aaron Chung, center, hands recently retired Police Chief Paul Ferreira, right, a certificate honoring the chief’s service to the county and accomplishments during the council’s regular meeting Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Images are screenshots from video)

The Hawai‘i County Council often tackles some tough issues. But from time to time, its members are fortunate enough to celebrate.

“Every once in a great while, we get to be able to get together and celebrate someone who has been a great leader and a great civil servant; a great person that has shown leadership and has truly been a member of the community, contributing to our health and, more importantly, the safety of our community,” Councilman Tim Richards said Wednesday, Sept. 7, during the council’s regular meeting.

Recently retired Police Chief Paul Ferreira smiles during Wednesday’s council meeting.

That person Wednesday was recently retired Police Chief Paul Ferreira. The council honored Ferreira and presented him with a certificate and lei in recognition of his accomplishments and service to the county.

“It is in deed my honor to be up here in front of you to celebrate someone like Chief Paul,” Richards told those in attendance during Wednesday’s meeting. “Over the years, he and I have become very good friends, and to reduce a more-than-40-year career down to a piece of paper, down to a statement of those accomplishments over the years, what could I contribute to that?”

How about emblazing “Retirement Denied” across the certificate? That got a chuckle out of everyone in attendance during Wednesday’s meeting. Richards held up his “version” of the certificate for everyone to see, but, alas, he had to admit, unfortunately, he was told he doesn’t have that authority.

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Richards wasn’t the only one to kid around with the former chief. Before Chairwoman Maile David read a portion of the certificate honoring Ferreira, Vice Chairman Aaron Chung, a close friend of the chief’s, joked that the council had to go to “the boss,” Ferreira’s wife, to make sure Ferreira was at Wednesday’s meeting.

All kidding aside, Chung, in thanking the chief for his service, said Ferreira always communicated with the council in an honest manner.

Born and raised on the Big Island, Ferreira served in the U.S. Air Force until his discharge in 1981. He joined the Hawai‘i Police Department as a member of its 38th recruitment class.

Ferreira was appointed police chief in December 2016. He announced in June of this year his plans to retire from the department. His retirement was effective Sept. 1, and each council member present during Wednesday’s meeting offered words of thanks for Ferreira’s service.

“I can’t express how I feel about having an association with you during my period on the council,” David said. “You have always been very, very cooperative and you’ve helped me so much in my district and in everybody else’s district. I just have so much aloha for you.”

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After reading from the certificate honoring Ferreira and his accomplishments and service, David added to to those comments.

“Now, Chief, on this certificate there’s a whole lot of accomplishment’s you’ve done, but I just want to say that we are so proud to have been in your charge, and the fact that you have kept us safe during your term as chief, we just express our heartfelt mahalo to you,” she said.

Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy said it was 57 recruit classes ago that Ferreira became a part of the Hawai‘i Police Department; that’s a good representation of how many people have come through the department since he started and had the privilege and honor of working under his leadership and guidance. She also called him the strength of the department and thanked him for teaching the next generation of officers.

“Thank you so much,” Lee Loy said. “Have a wonderful retirement.”

Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz reminisced about the first time she met with Ferreira as a freshman council member. She was intimidated, but said he was warm and friendly. She will never forget the advice Ferreira gave her during that meeting.

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“I’m paraphrasing here; you were like, take it easy, get a lay of the land and understand the process,” Kierkiewicz said. “It’s not about overturning the system, it’s about understanding the process and making that incremental change and working with community.”

She said the last few years have been tumultuous for the Big Island and Ferreira helped navigate through them with experience, patience and grace.

“Thank you for everything that you’ve done to support the department and all of your work to make our Hawai’i Island community safer and more harmonious,” Kierkiewicz said.

Council member Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said it’s Ferreira’s humble approach toward being chief of police he’s come to love. He will miss his jokes, his smile and his go-getter attitude. While they didn’t always agree, Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder still respected Ferreira’s decisions.

“Mahalo for everything you’ve done for the county,” Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder said. “Forty years is no small feat. Thank you.”

Hawai‘i County Council Chairman Maile David gives recently retired Police Chief Paul Ferreira a hug after bestowing him with a lei during Wednesday’s council meeting.

Councilwoman Heather Kimball congratulated Ferreira on his retirement and said she shared with Kierkiewicz that sense of intimidation walking into the chief’s office for the first time as a council member, but it was immediately assuaged just by his gentle nature and willingness to work with her.

“I really, really appreciate the way you view the interaction with the council and our role as advocates for community; your role as police chief,” Kimball said. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you. I wish we had more time together, but congratulations on your retirement, and I hope you find some time to relax.”

Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas rounded out comments.

“Mahalo, to you, and to your wife, and to your family for sharing you with our community for a period of time over my lifespan,” Villegas said. “But having been born here in Hilo and raised on the Kona side, you have been in service for my lifetime to serve and protect the people of our island.”

She said it’s been a joy working with Community Policing on the Kona side thanks to Ferreira’s leadership, empowerment, vision and support of the division’s dedication and commitment to work hand-in-hand, side-by-side and even sometimes outside of the box in serving the community.

“I just thank you for sharing your life with our island and our community and for the legacy you leave with all of the men and women in the department,” Villegas said.

Ferreira thanked the council for their praise and recognition and also for always working with the police department. He knows they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, and they shouldn’t, but at least they could work together cordially.

The accolades shouldn’t be for him, however; Ferreira said they should be for the people out on the streets — the officers who do the job everyday.

“I shine because of them. We shine because of them,” he said.

Among other business Wednesday, the council:

  • Adopted Resolution 467, which requests a performance audit of the county Office of Housing and Community Development by the county auditor to ensure the efficient issuance and use of affordable housing credits, which includes a comprehensive accounting of all credits issued, outstanding, transferred or redeemed and recommendations that would enhance controls for the program and make it more efficient and effective.
  • Adopted Resolution 478, which authorizes the temporary closure of the southern stub-out of Ka‘eka Street in North Kona. The stub-out is a portion of the street used as an extension to an adjacent property that might be developed in the future. The temporary closure is meant to reduce loitering, littering, consumption of alcohol and other illegal activities in the area.
  • Approved the second and final reading of Bill 120, which amends county code to require all newly constructed “places of public accommodation” with at least 50 parking spaces to install electric vehicle chargers and dedicated parking spaces under a tiered schedule that increases the required amount of chargers and parking spaces every two years through 2029. The measure also allows an additional two years for existing “places of public accommodation” that seek approval of plans to meet similar requirements.
Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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