HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In surprising candor, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard is expressing concern about the city prosecutor’s potential impact on criminal cases and his attendance at public safety meetings while he faces a federal investigation.
Ballard told Hawaii News Now that her concern with embattled Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s attendance at those meetings isn’t personal.
“I would have a very difficult time talking about confidential information in front of anybody who is under federal investigation,” she said.
This week, Ballard sent an email to Managing Director Roy Amemiya raising the concern.
The email came after HNN’s reports that Kaneshiro had received a target letter from the U.S. Department of Justice informing him that he’s under investigation as part an ongoing public corruption probe. That probe has already led to indictments against ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, a former top deputy prosecutor.
The next public safety meeting isn’t until next month, and it’s unclear how the city plans to respond to Ballard’s concerns. Ballard said HPD could discuss any public safety matters privately with city leaders.
Meanwhile, she also said that she’s worried Kaneshiro’s situation could taint pending and closed cases.
“How does this affect the cases in the past? How does this affect the cases in the future? How much resources are we going to be putting to reopen the cases?” she said.
She added that the federal investigation’s focus on Kaneshiro is eerily similar to the months before Kealoha’s eventual indictment. She said the probe isn’t good for morale — or for public trust.
“All I can say is where they are today is the exact place the HPD was two to three years ago,” she said. “What I saw with my own eyes was the erosion of public trust and also the negative effect it had on the officers who are out there every day trying to do their job.”
Kaneshiro has declined to respond to request for comments, though he did tell Hawaii News Now Now earlier this week that he plans to serve out his full term and believes his office is running effectively.
This story will be updated.