Attorney: Retirement terms ‘a matter of compromise’ as chief moves on

The final details of Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha’s retirement agreement were hashed out at Wednesday’s police commission meeting.

The agreement wasn’t what he wanted, according to attorney Myles Breiner, but Kealoha is moving on.

He’s doing so with $250,000 — less than half of what he would have earned if he finished his term through 2019. His official retirement date is March 1.

So what’s next for Kealoha? Breiner says the early retirement allows him to focus on family, and that the federal investigation hasn’t been easy for them.

But, Breiner stresses, Kealoha voluntarily stepped down to boost the morale of the police department.

According to Breiner, commission chairman Max Sword said it best Wednesday: “The department has been under a dark cloud for the last two years with all this federal investigation. We believe the police department needs to move on to move out from under the cloud.”

That dark cloud over HPD is the federal investigation tied to a mailbox theft case involving the chief’s wife, city deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. It ultimately led to the feds eyeing the police department.

Breiner says the investigation hasn’t been easy for Kealoha and his family, and neither is his early retirement.

“Up until recently, he has had exceptional evaluations year after year,” Breiner said. “It’s astounding. It’s rare in any major metropolitan area the chief gets exceptional recommendations from commission. That’s been the case of Kealoha.”

“Is he still steadfast in his innocence?” KHON2 asked.

“Absolutely. There’s no question,” Breiner replied.

We asked Breiner what went on behind the scenes in order for Kealoha to sign the papers agreeing to retire early. He says the chief had to compromise on the part where he must pay back $250,000 back to HPD if he’s found guilty of a felony.

“It certainly wasn’t what we wanted. It’s a matter of compromise. That’s why negotiations went on for so many hours, back and forth between all sides regarding a shorter period, longer period. Ultimately, it was a compromise that everyone could live with,” Breiner said.

One commissioner didn’t agree. Loretta Sheehan said she respected the final outcome, but preferred a longer process where the commission would carefully examine Kealoha’s leadership abilities.

Sheehan handed over a stack of papers for public record to the police commission detailing how she wanted to handle the chief’s retirement. We asked for a copy, but were told to sign a request form, and that we likely wouldn’t get it that day.

“She did her job. She voiced dissent. I don’t necessarily agree with her, but I can agree to disagree with her,” Breiner said.

Breiner also represents Katherine Kealoha, and says so far, she has not received a target letter from the federal government.

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