HPD chief defends department following accusations of ‘fiscal misconduct’
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Police Chief Susan Ballard took to social media Tuesday to respond to accusations the department mismanaged millions of dollars of federal CARES funds.
The allegations were included an anonymous letter addressed to the Honolulu Police Commission. The author claims to be a ranking officer within the chief’s inner circle.
The officer says the letter is written on behalf of a small group of HPD commanders who are “deeply concerned” with the way the department spent the federal COVID-19 relief aid.
The writer says it was sent anonymously for fear of retaliation.
The three-page letter dated Dec. 4 asked the police commission to investigate what the author characterized as “fiscal misconduct and malfeasance” in regards to HPD’s CARES Act spending.
Altogether, the Honolulu Police Department was awarded $43 million in federal coronavirus aid to bolster the city’s response and cover the cost of enforcing emergency rules.
The letter calls Ballard’s leadership into question saying of the “approximately 60,000 criminal citations” issued only “962” resulted in convictions.
[Related coverage: Nearly 60,000 citations issued for violating emergency orders thrown out]
The writer calls it “gross mismanagement” of the federal money.
The letter also describes the overtime scandal connected to the COVID-19 enforcement teams as “the direct results of poor management and improper planning by the chief of police. "
On Tuesday morning, the police department uploaded a three-minute video to social media in which Ballard disputes the letter. The video was posted on the department’s Facebook page and on YouTube.
“Let me assure you that there was no misuse or mismanagement of COVID funds,” said Ballard.
“These monies were used to purchase safety equipment and equipment to assist in the enforcement of COVID related activities.”
Most of what she said had to do with the investigation into overtime abuse.
Last month, HPD disbanded it’s COVID-19 enforcement team after an audit revealed 59 officers violated HPD policy. An internal investigation is underway.
“There were four allegations of four officer who did not work their entire shift,” Ballard said.
[Related coverage: 4 Honolulu officers face criminal probe linked to COVID-19 enforcement overtime]
“Let me assure you that the officers involved have had their police powers removed and are reassigned from their district. The rest of the team is being fully investigated.”
Police commission Chairwoman Shannon Alivado received the anonymous letter Monday.
In a statement she said:
“The Commission received the anonymous letter yesterday and recognized its importance as the Chief continues her investigation of COVID overtime violations. We take these issues brought forth very seriously as a Commission. Our intent is to discuss the content of the letter in full at our next meeting and request action steps from the Chief and the Department to get complete transparency as to the issues.
At the same time, we are aware of the ongoing departmental investigation of the overtime violations. The Commission welcomes communications from officers, and would note that the Chief has acknowledged the anonymous letter. The Commission appreciates Chief Ballard’s acknowledgement, continues to keep this issue a high priority, and will be requesting further information from the Department.”
City Councilman Tommy Waters said he’s alarmed the author of the letter fears retaliation.
“If true, there’s a pressing need to address abuse immediately,” he said.
HNN asked Ballard for an interview, but she refused to take questions.
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