HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Commission is finalizing its review of Louis Kealoha's first year as chief of police, after a closed-door discussion with him Wednesday.
Commission chair Marc Tilker says the written performance review will soon be sent to the chief for his signature. Tilker says the panel's evaluation will likely be made public by its next regular meeting March 16.
The president of the police officers' union says Kealoha has done a good job of boosting morale, and opening the lines of communication between the administration and the rank-and-file.
"He has definitely brought that wall down," Tenari Maafala, State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said. "I'm a police officer, too, so I definitely have first-hand knowledge as to the environment around the police department. The morale has been great."
Improving officer morale was one of the priorities Kealoha outlined when he was chosen to lead the department over five other finalists in November 2009. He also vowed to restructure the organization to operate it more effectively and efficiently, and strengthen community relations.
"You'll have a few that's probably not happy for whatever reason," Maafala said. "But for the most part, professionally-speaking and, again, to some extent personally, Chief Kealoha has been really great for the officers."
During his first year at the helm, Kealoha unveiled the new, 30-lane firing range at the HPD Training Academy in Waipahu, launched a crime mapping tool for the public on the department's web site, and led graffiti and trash cleanup projects in several communities.
"Not only is he building morale, which is great, but it instills in the officers and motivates the officers to go out there and do their best," Maafala said.
But the year also has been marred by the arrests or indictments of several officers under his watch for alleged offenses such as sexual assault, shoplifting, tampering with government records, and hitting a pedestrian while driving under the influence.
Most recently, a high-ranking officer -- Maj. Carlton Nishimura, 55, head of the HPD Legislative Liaison Office -- was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of extortion, attempting to tamper with a witness, and making false statements to FBI agents in connection with an illegal game room. Nishimura entered a plea of not guilty February 18.
"It hurts. It hurts all of us," Maafala said. "But, again, we're not here to judge them. I've always said, just like anybody else, they're innocent until proven guilty."
The police commission has the responsibility of appointing and, if necessary, removing Honolulu's chief of police. Kealoha is in the second year of a five-year term.