Officer: 'There's some pretty screwed up stuff going on in the police department'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police Officer Denny Santiago has had it with the department he's spent decades serving.

"Right here and today, this is the end of my career. There's people in the police department that are going to hate me for this, but I'm tired of it. I'm sick of it," Santiago told commissioners Thursday.

The 21-year veteran of the force says he is risking his career by testifying during the public session saying there is a culture of retaliation for dissent.

"Now I'm going up against the chief and the commanders, because I got no where else to go," Santiago said, in an exclusive interview.

His testimony appears to have gotten the attention of the panel.

Santiago says his frustration stems from multiple events, including internal affairs investigations that he considers retaliation.

One, in particular, when he was a detective in the Traffic Unit.  He says other officers were ordered to arrest a suspect in his case when he wasn't there and says there wasn't enough probable cause to arrest the person.  Santiago believes the arrested man's civil rights were violated and when Santiago complained, he says his Lieutenant started retaliating.

Commissioner Cha Thompson questioned him, "Mr. Santiago, did you ever try to see if you could get some help from your union?"

Santiago answered, "The union would not represent me because part of my complaint involved another union member."  Santiago says he was told that SHOPO cannot represent both sides of the dispute.  But instead of hiring an outside attorney to represent one party, Santiago says, he is looking for his own attorney.

Another Honolulu Police Officer contacted Hawaii News Now saying SHOPO told him the same thing when he asked for representation for a complaint.

Santiago is speaking out now, because the police commission will spend the next two months finding a new chief.

Former Chief Louis Kealoha was forced to retire as a target of an FBI public corruption investigation.  An investigation that is still going on.

Santiago wants commissioners to keep in mind, their decision will affect every officer on the force and they need to make sure their choice isn't wrapped up in the federal scandal.

"I believe there are other commanders getting indicted.  So knowing that, you got to be serious about if you're going to pick someone from the inside.  You got to be serious and sure that they're not involved."

The police commission will discuss Santiago's testimony at the next meeting.

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