HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly two weeks after being sworn in as Honolulu's 10th chief of police, Louis Kealoha says he's become fully aware of the obligations and responsibilities that come with his new position. On Tuesday, Kealoha explained how he plans to bring change to his department during these tight budget times.
The chief started off with a joke, asking reporters to give him only easy questions for his first formal news conference. But then he got down to business, detailing his immediate priorities.
Heading to the podium for the first time as top cop, Louie Kealoha says his biggest challenge is dealing with budget restraints while not compromising public safety.
"We've done certain exercises to project 5%, 10%, even 15% budget cuts," he said. "We're also looking at preparing the department for the impending furloughs of our civilian employees."
The chief says doing more with less will require the department to concentrate its resources on core services, possibly shifting money away from education and prevention projects such as the popular DARE program for kids.
"Shifting our resources to the patrol division to officers on the street," Kealoha said. "We are focused on keeping Honolulu the safest city in the nation."
Kealoha says he wants to foster open and honest communication with the rank-and-file and members of the community, and beef up officer recruitment and retention efforts.
"Providing them with career enhancement opportunities, looking at training opportunities," he said. "Creating an environment where they feel motivated and are well-trained to serve the public."
Last month, there were three separate incidents in which police opened fire on suspects in vehicles. The chief says it is a cause for concern and he's having his team to review the cases.
"Look into incidences, these incidences, to see where we can improve or where changes need to be made in terms of our training and our policy," he said.
Hawaii News Now asked Kealoha if there's a specific crime that wants to crack down on. He says in his first 100 days, he'd like to implement a program to combat graffiti.