Audit praises HPD for cracking down on officer misconduct but criticize ability to prevent it

Audit praises HPD for cracking down on officer misconduct but criticize ability to prevent it
The audit also compliments HPD Chief Susan Ballard for prioritizing restoring the community's trust (Source: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new city audit says the Honolulu Police Department is responding appropriately to officer misconduct.

However, the auditor also said HPD needs to do more to prevent it from happening in the first place.

“We found that the department is generally responsive in identifying and correcting officer misconduct. However, the department could improve its policies, procedures, and training to prevent misconduct rather than punishing officers after-the-fact,” the report said.

Hawaii News Now law enforcement expert Tommy Aiu says it can very difficult to spot the warning signs in troubled officers.

“Misconduct can happen in many shapes and forms – stemming from overtime abuse that just came out. Other crimes, domestic violence. Those kinds of things are hard to discover unless there is a complaint,” Aiu said.

However, not all of the audit is critical.

The report praises HPD Chief Susan Ballard for prioritizing restoring the community’s trust.

“The current chief has prioritized restoring community and organizational trust, increased emphasis on reducing domestic violence in the department, and promoting training that emphasizes ethics, integrity, and guardian mentality,” the audit states.

Ballard became head of the department at the end of 2017. Three years later, she has earned high marks from the police commission for her efforts.

“With this administration, it’s clear that not only the community, but the department recognizes how she’s turned around the department in such a short amount of time,” said Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado.

Chief Ballard declined Hawaii News Now’s interview request. However, in a letter to the auditor she said that the department has already begun to implement some of the audit’s recommendations.

Most recently, Ballard suspended the department’s COVID-19 enforcement team after dozens of officers racked up excessive overtime. She has assured the public that the violators will be punished.

“If there are areas that the auditors have pointed out, that looks at some ways to improve, whether it being proactive, rather than reactive, that is something the commission will really take a look at,” Alivado said.

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