Kealoha will be next Honolulu police chief

Kealoha will be next Honolulu police chief
Capt. Louis Kealoha
Capt. Louis Kealoha
Melvin Andres
Melvin Andres

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's new police chief is Louis Kealoha. But he says you can call him 'Louie'.

The Honolulu Police Commission and Mayor Mufi Hannemann gave Kealoha a rousing endorsement on Wednesday.

The new chief has jumped over the ranks of Major and Assistant Chief. One of the reasons is his five-year vision for change.

In a unanimous vote, Kealoha jumped ranks from Captain to Honolulu Police Chief. But the decision comes with concern.

"His experience has been limited, of command, has been limited to Captain level," said Police Commissioner Craig Watase, who at the same time praised Kealoha.

The 26-year veteran has the least experience out of the three other local candidates.

"If it was just based on experience, we wouldn't have to look any further than how many years you have in the Department but I think what the Police Commission and Department is looking for is someone who could lead with courage and confidence in the future," said Chief Kealoha.

They're characteristics Commission Chair Christine Camp compares to President Obama, the most junior Senator in the presidential race.

"He had a vision for change and people believed in him, people supported him in that, and I think this Chief will have that," said Camp.

What impressed the Commission during the interviews was Chief Kealoha's five-year strategy outlining his priorities.

"The first core area was looking at restructuring the organization. The second and most important to me for the Department is working on improving officer morale. And then the third, despite our budgetary constraints, to still strengthen our community service," Kealoha said.

Until now, Kealoha was Captain of the Juvenile Services Division. He's from Kalihi, and is a Damien Memorial School grad.

"It was just wonderful to know that another one of our graduates has risen to the career ranks," said Bernard Ho, Damien Memorial School President & CEO.

"He's going to hold himself accountable for his actions because he's a man and he's a Damien graduate," said Damien alumnus Melvin Andres, a Honolulu police officer who's known Kealoha for 20 years.

Andres says that accountability was lacking under former Chief Boise Correa, who's been criticized by others for low morale at HPD - something Chief Kealoha is committed to change.

"It could be better right now," said Kealoha.

One way Chief Kealoha plans to lift morale is to run the department with an open door, and be friendly and approachable.

He even has a Facebook page.

Kealoha beat out five other finalists, including Deputy Chief Paul Putzulu, to win HPD’s top position. Putzulu has been acting chief since Boisse Correa stepped down in August.
Correa, promoted to chief in 2004, had wanted to stay on but his contract was not renewed by the police commission.

49-year-old Kealoha earned a Doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California. He is married and has a 10-year-old daughter.

"My congratulations and best wishes go to Captain Louis Kealoha on his well-deserved selection as Chief of the Honolulu Police Department. I'm looking forward to collaborating with him on keeping Honolulu one of the safest big cities in the nation" said Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

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