HPD chief appears before Police Commission - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

HPD chief appears before Police Commission

Kealoha appears before the Police Commission Kealoha appears before the Police Commission
Nancy Manali-Leonardo, speaker Nancy Manali-Leonardo, speaker
former HPD Police Chief Lee Donohue former HPD Police Chief Lee Donohue
Police Commission Chair Ronald Taketa Police Commission Chair Ronald Taketa
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

More fallout from the case of the Honolulu police chief's stolen mailbox.

Chief Louis Kealoha appeared before the Police Commission Wednesday afternoon but did not address the controversy during the public comment period. Others did instead, both for and against him.

"We stand behind our police chief, his command staff, and all our commanders and supervisors wholeheartedly," said longtime head of Hawaii's police union SHOPO, Tenari Maafala.

"When I look at the current mindset of what we have in the police chief and the SHOPO president, I think we need a change," Nancy Manali-Leonardo said in front of the commission.

Six people commented during the public hearing, majority in support of Kealoha and the Honolulu Police Department.

"A lot of it is allegations. And I think the people has to understand to let the commission do its job," said former HPD Police Chief Lee Donohue.

Two of the six speakers were critics. Manali-Leonardo said Kealoha cannot handle what's on his plate.

"I think he should refocus, get what he needs to do with his family, and they should appoint another acting chief of police in the interim," she said.

Kealoha is under scrutiny after the case of his missing mailbox was thrown out on Tuesday. Two weeks ago he caused a mistrial in federal court. He blurted a statement about the defendant, his wife's uncle, Gerard Puana's previous arrest for burglary.

"I think the chief has acknowledged that he's made a mistake, he's apologized, he deeply regrets it and we need to move on from here and concentrate on running the police department as efficiently as we can," said Police Commission Chair Ronald Taketa.

Puana's attorney, Alexander Silvert, says his client had been set up. The Kealohas and Puana were already involved in a nasty civil dispute involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Puana says Mrs. Kealoha spent family money that didn't belong to her. Puana's attorney says the mailbox accusation was retaliation for the civil suit. Now, the U.S. Attorney's office has requested the FBI to investigate HPD's handling of the mailbox theft.

"Until we get some proof or fact to show otherwise, we have no choice except to believe in the chief and what he's done," Taketa said.

Taketa says the Police Commission is not conducting its own investigation. He says they will decide if one is needed after the federal investigation is completed.

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