Saying she no longer has commission’s trust, HPD chief announces she’ll step down

Updated: Apr. 10, 2021 at 5:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Saying she no longer has the support of the police commission and is the subject of a “rampant rumor campaign,” Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard on Friday announced she will be stepping down effective June 1.

The stunning news comes just days after the commission gave her low marks for leadership and management in her annual review, and put her on a performance plan that required sweeping changes.

In a video message posted online, Ballard said it is “increasingly clear” that she no longer has the “trust or the support” of the Honolulu Police Commission or the Blangiardi administration.

[Read more: Blangiardi says he ‘disappointed’ in HPD chief’s decision to leave]

“I believe it is in the best interests of the department and the community that I step aside and allow the commission to find someone who will lead the department the way they see fit,” she said.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi pushed back against Ballard’s statement Friday evening, saying he hadn’t lost confidence in her.

“I don’t understand that comment because I’ve done nothing but support Chief Ballard,” he said,

He added that looks forward to working with the police commission to determine next steps. While the commission will select the next chief, he said he wants a “big say” in the pick.

“Under the circumstances, this is under my watch as mayor,” he said.

Police union President Malcolm Lutu called the news of Ballard’s departure “shocking and sad.”

“She put us on the right path when negotiations where going on. She knew our officers’ needs,” she said. “I don’t know why she’s resigning. I hope it wasn’t because of the police commission’s evaluation.”

In her online message, the 64-year-old chief claimed she is the subject of a “rampant rumor campaign,” but didn’t elaborate ― saying only that it has become “next to impossible” to lead the department.

Ballard informed some of her colleagues of her decision earlier on Friday, but ― in a bizarre move ― she did not reach out to the mayor or the police commission.

Ballard is a 36-year veteran of the force and had been widely praised in 2017, when she was selected for a five-year term to run the department as its first female chief.

“This is going to be a difficult job,” she said, at the time. “But I know we can do it.”

Ballard took over a department that had been rocked by scandal and lost the public’s trust. Her predecessor, Louis Kealoha, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in one of the largest public corruption scandals in the state’s history.

In being selected to lead HPD, Ballard pledged a new era of transparency and accountability. She was also widely known for having almost no connections to the commanders appointed by Kealoha.

Ballard was a major when selected as police chief. She joined the Honolulu Police Department in 1985, three years after moving to the islands from North Carolina.

This story will be updated.

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