Honolulu police major turns down promotion amid controversy

The search is back on to fill a high-ranking position in the Honolulu Police Department after the top choice turned it down.

The top brass at the Honolulu Police Department is made up of the chief, two deputy chiefs, and six assistant chiefs.

Ryan Borges was promoted from major to assistant chief. The decision was made by a panel, which consists of the chief and deputy chiefs. They interviewed six candidates for the position.

Questions and concerns were raised about the promotion over a terroristic threatening case involving Borges years ago. State Sen. Will Espero, D, vice chair of the Senate public safety committee, raised concerns over how Borges got his promotion earlier this month.

Chief of Police Louis Kealoha issued the following statement Wednesday:

I spoke to Major Borges this morning, and he has decided not to accept the upcoming promotion. He said that he does not want the recent controversy to continue to be a disruption and detract from the positive work that the department does. Although I still believe that Major Borges would make an excellent assistant chief, I respect and understand his choice. My staff and I will be working with the city Department of Human Resources Division to discuss the process of selecting the next assistant chief.

Kealoha did not want to comment on-camera.

We asked police if the promotion process could change, and if more scrutiny or people should be involved.

A spokesperson said the department does not plan to change it, and the city will repost the position.

KHON2 asked the head of the police union for his opinion.

“These are the three highest-ranking officers and it’s important they render their perspective and their opinions on whether the assistant chief or candidate is qualified for the position,” said SHOPO president Tenari Maafala.

Should candidates with a past be considered for high-ranking positions with HPD?

“That shouldn’t stop you from continuing and bettering your career and going forward and being example that if you do make a mistake, get up, get up,” Maafala said.

Honolulu City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi said the council tries not to interfere with promotions, but “we’re hoping that when these promotions are made, whenever any decision is made and it’s controversial, a lot of discussion happens.”

Meanwhile Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a statement, “Domestic violence is not acceptable in our community and in law enforcement. Major Borges made the right decision to decline the promotion.”

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