HPD partnership with domestic violence group to abruptly end

Commissioners agreed that the systematic issues should’ve been figured out months ago.

HPD partnership with domestic violence group to abruptly end
Chief Ballard met with commissioners Wednesday.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There were tense moments Wednesday as the Honolulu Police Commission didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye with Police Chief Susan Ballard on a key domestic violence partnership that will end next month.

“Respectfully chief, I think you’ve been given some misinformation," Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman Loretta Sheehan said.

The Domestic Violence Action Center has returned $400,000 in grant money meant for the Safe on Streets program. It’s a non-profit program that provides experts to assist police on sensitive domestic violence calls.

But the group says HPD didn’t use them as required and their services weren’t fully utilized, and therefore it doesn’t meet the grant requirements.

Both the commission and the chief agreed the service was important. However, Ballard said it shouldn’t be about hitting a minimum number of calls, but rather what the victim is comfortable with.

“Any assistance that we can get to a domestic violence victim is a bonus, so we’re willing to do anything. But a program that you’re not calling enough — well, if the victim doesn’t want anybody there, even if you got called 34 times, that’s 34 times that they wouldn’t have had that service so why are we so concentrated on the numbers?” Ballard said.

The commission said there should have been improvements to way domestic calls were handled months ago.

“When you’re getting miserable numbers in January ... when officers are having experiences that, ‘Oh women don’t, victims don’t want advocates,’ what protocol, what procedures were in place to contact DV and say, 'You know what, the program is not working. We’ve got to figure something else out,” Sheehan said.

Other commissioners agreed that the systematic issues should’ve been figured out before reaching the point where the grant money had to be returned.

The Safe on Streets program will end Dec. 31, but DVAC says they will still take referrals if HPD calls. The main difference is now, they won’t have an advocate available on-call to go to the scene.

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