HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Commission has set a 60-day deadline for HPD Chief Susan Ballard to make dramatic changes to the department, but community watchdog groups are wondering what, if anything, will happen if she does not meet those expectations.
“Is the chief going to be held to this performance improvement plan?” asked Joshua Wisch, of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Among the requested changes to her leadership and management style, Ballard has to eliminate a “culture of blame” at the Honolulu Police Department and take responsibility as the chief.
She’s also been ordered to stop ostracizing those under her.
And Ballard must better manage overtime.
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When it comes to public information, the commissioners want her to improve the reporting of crime, and case closure statistics, which have dropped recently.
And Ballard needs to better communicate with the media and with others in the department.
“Reaching out to community groups and actually creating dialogue with them, I think, would be massive,” said Jessica Hernandez, a Honolulu resident who has spoken out against the chief.
Meda Chesney Lind, a University of Hawaii professor in Women’s Studies, agreed. She said Ballard “doesn’t do herself any favors by being out of public view.”
Lind said she’d like to see the chief more willing to openly discuss issues and scandals impacting the department. “That’s what you do when you have a difficult situation, you’re forthright about it and you address it and I hope that she will do it,” Lind said.
Ballard was marked down to “below expectations” in two of seven categories in her annual review.
The commission said she is meeting expectations in other categories, including budget and fiscal areas and communication.
It was Ballard’s lowest performance assessment in an annual review. Previous evaluations, even last year’s, came in with very high marks.
Wisch said he was encouraged that the commission came up with a performance improvement plan. He felt past commissioners have acted more as a cheerleader to the chief.
“We can’t really take our foot off the gas,” he said.
Chinatown resident Cathy Lee, a critic of the chief, said she wants the commission to ask more pointed questions of the chief during meetings and keep pushing if the chief isn’t direct with answers.
“The chief has gotten away, effectively with simply deflecting any accountability. And that’s been really difficult to watch in real time,” Lee said.