Newest appointee to police commission calls for more transparency

Newest appointee to police commission calls for more transparency

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's newest appointee to the Honolulu Police Commission is calling for more police transparency.

"I think it would really serve the police department to be more transparent. I think that they would actually find a great benefit," said appointee Loretta Sheehan at a news conference Friday. "More communication, more openness, more willing to comment on difficult issues."

Sheehan spent 24 years as a city and federal prosecutor, and is now in private practice at Davis Levin Livingston.

Caldwell said she'll be a breath of fresh air for a body that's been criticized for being secretive and slow to act.

The appointment comes as Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, a deputy city prosecutor, face a widening federal probe. A federal grand jury is weighing whether the two should be brought up on charges of public corruption and civil rights violations.

On Thursday, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro testified before the grand jury, along with several police officers.

Despite the investigation, the police commission has taken a wait-and-see approach.

Sheehan, though, says more should be done.

"I appreciate their position that they don't want to do anything while another agency is investigating, but I do think that they could certainly ask questions of parties who are involved," she said. "Now those parties might say 'no we're not talking to you' and that's their right, but at least then the public would know that the police commission tried."

Sheehan also said the department needs to work to prevent racial and sexual discrimination.

A lawsuit brought by three officers who say they faced racial and gender discrimination at the hands of a superior was recently settled for $6 million.

Sheehan, who also serves on the board of the Domestic Violence Action Center, said she also wants to see more police commission discussions happen publicly.

"I don't want to be divisive. I want to respect the procedures that are there, but I think it would serve everybody if we just sort of lifted up the conversation to a more public platform," she said.

Sheehan served as a city deputy prosecuting attorney from 1986 to 1995, then an assistant U.S. attorney in Hawaii until 2009. She replaces Helen Hamada, whose appointment on the police commission has expired.

Caldwell also announced Friday the re-appointment of Max Sword to a second term on the police commission.

Both appointments require confirmation by the Honolulu City Council.

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