Honolulu’s new top cop took the oath Wednesday morning to protect the City and County.
Police Chief Susan Ballard has made history as the first female chief in the department’s history, and the eleventh overall.
Held on the fourth floor of main police headquarters, the swearing-in ceremony was short and sweet. The lines of well-wishers congratulating Ballard wrapped around the crowded room as supporters draped the new chief in lei.
“This is such an exciting time. I’m just once again humbled by all the support. I look forward to working with everyone, moving forward and making sure HPD is great again,” Ballard addressed the crowd to a round of applause after taking her oath as the new chief.
Ballard’s niece and sister flew in from Florida to proudly pin the badge on the new chief. Lynn Friend recalled a time before her sister was the top cop.
“She was working at Burger King as a manager. A friend of hers told her to apply for the police department. That it would be a great job. So she did it, and I don’t know if that’s what she really wanted to do, but she has taken it and gone with it. She loves every minute of it,” said Friend.
Ballard’s family says she even considered retiring in December after 32 years with HPD.
“She must have really wanted it to not retire. Now she’s got five more years,” said Friend.
Some say they’re glad Ballard did not hang up her uniform.
“We had a great relationship with Chief Ballard at the level she was before being promoted as police chief, so we see a continued support on both sides,” said Honolulu Fire Chief Manuel Neves.
“When I was working with her, she was always known for her honesty, direct approach, and unselfish manner,” said Stephen Watary, who retired from HPD in 2007.
Under Ballard’s direction, officers current and retired tell us they believe the future of the Honolulu Police Department is bright.
“The past two administrations kind of passed her up. Now she can restore the tarnished badge, make us old-timers proud we were policemen,” said Watary.
Holding lei in his hands, SHOPO president Tenari Maafala waited in line to drape the congratulatory lei over the new chief’s neck.
“(There will) definitely (be) good change. Just her wisdom and knowledge, just her mother-like intuitions for the officers. So we’re excited,” said Maafala.
Ballard is getting settled into her new role. A spokeswoman for the department said Ballard plans on addressing the officers first on her direction for the department.
The 60-year-old was born in Virginia and raised in North Carolina.
She holds a master of arts degree in health and physical education from Tennessee Technical University.
She moved to Hawaii in 1982 and joined HPD in 1985.
Her experience within HPD includes assignments in Kalihi, Windward Oahu, HPD’s finance division, and training academy. She most recently served as commander of the Central Receiving Division.
She was also a finalist for police chief in 2004, when former chief Lee Donohue retired. The job ultimately went to Boisse Correa.
Ballard was unanimously selected by the Honolulu Police Commission last Wednesday to serve a five-year term.
“All seven candidates were excellent, of good moral character and experienced. One of the things that stood out for me is that Susan was ready to do the job tomorrow. She had plans. She thought thoroughly how she would serve. She was articulate. And the commission had three days to discuss each candidate, and we were quite satisfied with her presentation,” vice chair Cha Thompson said when the decision was announced. “She convinced us that her deep desire was to be a healer and to help overcome the turmoil that the department is in at this time.”
“I’ve been around since Moby Dick was a minnow as they say, so I think most of the officers worked with me at some point in time, and I think any of them that you talk to pretty much will tell you, I haven’t really changed since I was a footman, or foot officer. My personality has stayed the same, the way that I approach problems, the way I approach people, it’s pretty much the same. I haven’t changed, and I’m going to continue doing that, supporting the officers, supporting the department, and also supporting the community,” Ballard previously said.
As chief, Ballard will receive a salary of more than $190,000 a year.
At a press conference later in the day on the plans for President Donald Trump visiting Honolulu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell expressed his thoughts on new Chief Ballard.