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In internal video, police chief says 263 officers abused overtime policy

Updated: Feb. 27, 2021 at 12:30 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu’s police chief said in an internal video message to rank and file on Friday that overtime abuse within the department involved hundreds of officers.

“Between Sept. 29, 2020 to Nov. 20, 2020 of last year, 263 officers worked in excess of the departmental set ceilings,” said HPD Chief Susan Ballard.

The video was sent to officers Friday morning on the department’s private communication channel.

After Hawaii News Now inquired about the video, HPD officials said it will be posted online for the public to view on Monday.

“The chief wanted to do an internal notification first,” said HPD Spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

In the video, Ballard said she made one rule about overtime when it came to the federal CARES funding the department received to enforce COVID-19 violations last year.

“And that was that officers could only work up to 20 hours a week initially, and then we changed it to 24 hours per week,” Ballard said.

Records months ago showed that 49 officers logged between 130 and 198 hours of overtime, eight more clocked between 200 and 256 hours of OT, and two recorded more than 300 hours of overtime.

Ballard said out of the 263 officers who violated policy, four cases were turned over to the state Attorney General’s Office for criminal investigation. However, those cases were declined.

“The department is not prosecuting based on an evaluation of the sufficiency of the evidence, the circumstances of the alleged theft, and the amount involved,” said Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to the Attorney General.

Honolulu City Councilman Tommy Waters wants an audit of HPD in the wake of the overtime abuses.

“We went back and looked at the difference between the amount of money, taxpayer money, that we spent on overtime in 2018 to 2019 fiscal years and it jumped 38% ― from $27 million in 2018 to $38 million in 2019. And again, this is taxpayer’s money,” Waters said.

Waters said a resolution before the City Council aims to curb the overtime abuse and calls for greater transparency.

“I don’t blame the individual police officers. If they’re asked to work or told to work, great, and we are so lucky to have them working. But at the same time, it really comes from the brass and the chief,” said Waters.

HPD suspended its special COVID-19 enforcement patrols back in November. Ballard said all officers involved will be counseled.

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