Chief Ballard provides progress report on restoring HPD’s reputation, public trust

It’s been just over three months since the swearing-in ceremony of Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard.

She took the reins of the department during a tumultuous time in the department’s history. There was a tainted reputation to restore, along with questions about the public’s trust in HPD’s leadership. 

Many in the rank-and-file and the community have already seen changes. On Wake Up 2day Monday morning, Ballard shared her thoughts on the transition, and her team’s short- and long-term goals.

“The transition has actually gone very smoothly. We’ve assembled a very good team, and we’re taking one problem at a time and moving forward,” she said.

As for one of her first short-term goals, she said with a smile, “This is going to be kind of funny, is get rid of the necktie. This is Hawaii and we don’t need to be wearing ties here in Hawaii.”

SHOPO, the police officers union, recently filed a complaint against Ballard with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. It revolves around a report that identified union president Tenari Maafala for a personnel issue, something he claims is against state labor laws.

Ballard couldn’t comment on the complaint, but said, “The police department has a good working relationship with the Honolulu board and we’re continuing to meet with them and resolve issues that we have, so I think overall the relationship is very good.”

Ballard says the relationship between HPD and SHOPO is “very important moving forward, because I think we’re both in this together. I like to say together is better, because we all have the best interest of the community as well as the officers in mind, and just because we have differences of opinion, that’s okay, because we all want the same thing.”

Earlier this month, four Honolulu police officers were placed on restricted duty while the FBI investigates allegations of misconduct. Ballard says the department began investigating after the officers were accused of forcing a man to place his mouth on a public urinal.

“Because the case is under investigation, I really can’t say too much about it than what I’ve already said in the press conference, but as you said, officers are human. They are going to be making poor judgement at times or bad decisions, but when those issues arise as in this case, we will make sure that we take action,” she said.

Ballard says transparency is key, and “not only the good things, where we’ve got to come to the media and give a conference about, but also the things that may not be all that great, and we’re continually letting the officers know that they are the face of the community and for the community to make sure they absolutely trust us again, it’s not just about me, it’s them, because they’re out there talking to the community, working with them on a daily basis, so they are the reputation of the police department.”

Ballard says she also plans to shine a brighter light on the good actions by officers.

“Those types of things happen every day, and it is unfortunate that they really don’t get talked about. Only the bad things get talked about,” she said. “One of the things that we are going to be doing is that when we have our quarterly awards ceremony, the officer who wins the award, one of the sponsors has come forward and wants to do a piece on them with the media about how they became officer of the quarter, so different types of things like that that we’re going to be moving forward to try and highlight some of the good things the officers are doing.”

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