Exclusive: Police sergeants under investigation for alleged... - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Exclusive: Police sergeants under investigation for alleged overtime scam stripped of badges, guns

Tenari Maafala of SHOPO Tenari Maafala of SHOPO

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The investigation into allegations of false reporting by two Honolulu police sergeants who oversaw DUI enforcement has widened to include half a dozen officers who worked under the pair. Hawaii News Now has learned that all eight have been stripped of their badges, guns and police powers pending the outcome of the investigation.

ROPA -- or Restriction of Police Authority -- is an administrative move no officer wants to be part of. The decision to strip an officer of his or her badge and police powers comes from the chief of police.

The sergeants are accused of filing police reports that said they were present at DUI roadblocks when they were not in a fraudulent attempt to rack up overtime.

"The allegations themselves are quite disturbing," this reporter said.

"Very much so," Tenari Maafala, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said. "We don't condone that. The bottom line is I've always said that police officers are human beings, too. So with that said, we're susceptible to making mistakes."

But the head of the union that represents the eight who are under investigation says they have a right to due process, are innocent until proven otherwise, and should not have had their badges and guns taken away from them.

"We don't agree with that. There's always other ways of implementing the ROPA," Maafala said. "The allegations are false reporting. So in that type of case, I think these officers could be put on desk duty and still retain their powers because they're not exposed to the public."

Sources say the Restriction of Police Authority -- or ROPA -- was ordered Monday, after Hawaii News Now broke the story about the allegations late last week.

An HPD spokesperson would only say, "Yes, more officers are being investigated. Yes, they have been ROPA'd."

Prosecutors say they've already thrown out of court at least a dozen drunken driving cases involving the sergeants.

"We as police officers are held to and accountable to higher standards, rightfully so," Maafala said. "The public trusts us to be, again, the role models, so to speak, to protect and serve. So when allegations like this do happen, it does hurt all of us."

The officers have all been transferred out of the Traffic Division.

The city prosecutor's office says it's still in the process of reviewing the cases. Possible criminal charges include tampering with a government record and theft.

More about this story on HawaiiNewsNow.com:

DUI cases dismissed as part of ongoing probe

Exclusive: HPD sergeants overseeing DUI enforcement under criminal investigation

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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