Police Chief Susan Ballard is once again distinguishing herself from prior Chief Louis Kealoha – with her efforts to restore public trust in the department.
The latest example involves Sergeant Darren Cachola, whose video-taped brawl with a girlfriend in 2014 seemed emblematic of a department that didn't treat domestic violence seriously enough.
Chief Kealoha did fire Cachola, but the termination process was botched. An arbitrator ordered his return to duty with hundreds of thousands in back pay. A number of other officers were also disciplined for giving Cachola special treatment.
Hawaii police officers have more privacy rights than any other public workers. Records of discipline are only released if an officer is fired and loses all his appeals.
But the chief wants to use an exception in the law to make the Cachola records public. She says the public should know what the officers did and what the consequences were in this important case.
The chief lost the first round in that effort. A state labor board blocked release pending further legal arguments.
But just by trying, the chief is sending a message that she will not tolerate officers who act above the law.
She also knows that being transparent will help prevent this kind of scandal and reassure the public that our police force does its duty up to the highest standards of justice.
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