HPD leader under fire for soliciting support for promotion

HPD leader under fire for soliciting support for promotion
Maj. Ryan Borges (Source: Hawaii News Now)
Maj. Ryan Borges (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An embattled Honolulu Police Department leader whose promotion caused controversy sent out a letter asking colleagues to offer their support.

The decision to appoint Major Ryan Borges to assistant chief caused controversy because of his arrest for domestic violence 23 years ago. Borges recently wrote a letter reaching out to various community leaders and citizens for help.

Critics say the letter violates department policies, and they're calling for an internal affairs investigation.

In his letter, Borges writes that he made a bad mistake in 1993, committing an act of terroristic threatening against his then-wife. He says he paid a severe price for his indiscretions, but that he turned to religion and has been forgiven.

Borges asks that character reference letters be sent to HPD Chief Louis Kealoha.

"The letter clearly shows that this individual should not be promoted to assistant chief," said State Senator Will Espero, who has been increasingly critical of HPD operations. "This letter, in my opinion, made it worse."

Espero questions whether the letter violates the department's Standards of Conduct which states:  "Officers and civilian employees shall not seek the influence or intervention of any organization or persons outside the department for purposes of personal preferment, advantage, or transfer, except as provided for by civil service rules and regulations or any collective bargaining contract."

In response to Borges' letter, the Honolulu Police Department posted several letters of support for him on its Facebook page.

One of them is on letterhead from former Lt. Governor Duke Aiona. Another is written on Honolulu Fire Department stationery and is signed by Chief Manuel Neves. There's also a letter apparently sent from Honolulu Council Chair Ernie Martin's cell phone.
"If it is in violation of the procedures outlined in the police department's manual and website, then why hasn't the chief done anything about this?" Espero asked.

In the letter, Borges further revealed that he had his police powers removed for nearly five years. He received a pardon in 2001 from then-Governor Ben Cayetano and was subsequently promoted several times, upsetting advocates for domestic violence victims.

"It sends a message to women in the community that they're not safe, that if they call the police they're not safe because we are going to protect abusive people within our ranks and promote them," said Catherine Betts, executive director of the State Commission on Status of Women.

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