Honolulu Police Chief is hammered by lawmakers about domestic violence policy

Honolulu Police Chief is hammered by lawmakers about domestic violence policy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers did not hold back when grilling Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and members of his command staff at an informational briefing at the State Capitol Tuesday.

They were especially critical of internal discipline for officers accused of domestic violence.

"I have your report that HPD filed with the legislature last year and there are some incidents on here, officer was involved in domestic dispute that escalated in physical alteration causing pain to the complainant. Disciplinary action, one day." said Senator Laura Thielen, "While off duty, officer grabbed the complainant and made threatening and disrespectful remarks toward her, disciplinary action, one day," she cited several more examples and then asked with obvious sarcasm, "Can you please explain to me, how your zero tolerance policy works."

The informational briefing was triggered by the September 8 video of Sgt. Darren Cachola fighting with his girlfriend at a Waipahu restaurant.

Chief Kealoha says the video is not enough for his department to arrest Cachola, but says the case is now with the prosecutor. Sources say that office is looking at possible charges for Disorderly Conduct or Misdemeanor Assault.

HPD did bring additional surveillance video from that night. Video that has never been released publicly. It shows the minutes before and after the clip released to the media and explains HPD's reasons for not arresting Cachola. Police sources tell me it shows the girlfriend slap Cachola three times, then jump on him. The two wrestle then get up and laugh.

Chief Kealoha was ready to show the entire video at the public meeting, but lawmakers stopped him.

Despite all their calls for transparency, State Senators and Representatives will view the video privately and the public will not get to see anything but the section already released.

State Senator Will Espero said he did not want the video played because it would distract from the purpose of the meeting which was to expose problems with HPD's policies and the following of those policies.

Chief Kealoha did say there are a number of issues his department must work through but says he's open to suggestions from lawmakers and the domestic violence advocates.

Lawmakers want the department to increase the amount of training officers get in handling domestic violence cases. Currently they get three hours as recruits and a refresher course every year for just one hour. Espero says that's not enough.

There have been numerous complaints to lawmakers that victims are discouraged from filing police reports be responding officers and are sometimes intimidated when the suspects are cops.

The two sides will continue to meet. Kealoha says the public can expect policy changes and Espero says there will likely be legislative changes too.

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