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HPD’s embattled chief denies reports of low morale, promises better communication

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard is now promising more transparency and openness after a months-long pause in public statements.

The change comes less than a week after a Hawaii News Now report that she’d been refusing interviews about the various issues the department is facing.

On Monday, media outlets were given 10 minutes each with Ballard.

On the issue of transparency, Ballard admitted that she had not made herself available recently to take reporters’ questions but said there were other ways of getting information out to the public.

“People can listen to the Police Commission,” she said. “I also did a press conference with the former mayor, Caldwell in Waikiki during COVID,” she added, about the pre-Halloween press event.

The chief also acknowledged communication with the rank and file suffered because of COVID restrictions. She said she will once again start going to the individual districts to meet with officers, something the police union is encouraging.

“She needs to come out and she agrees, that she’s going to come out and speak to the officers and let the officers ask questions about whatever they’re feeling that SHOPO cannot answer,” said Malcolm Lutu, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

When it came to the question about low morale, Ballard denied those reports.

“I think the officers that are complaining are very few I think the majority of the officers are happy to be coming to work,” she said.

Before HNN’s time ran out, Ballard did address the federal investigation into the department’s spending of CARES Act funds.

Ballard said all 100 plus vehicles were needed when they were purchased because the department didn’t know how long COVID restrictions would last.

She also said she doesn’t anticipate the federal government asking for repayment after the investigation is complete.

Ballard said she would try to be more accommodating with information moving forward. She said she agreed to make a weekly appearance on a radio show.

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