Blangiardi says he is ‘disappointed’ in HPD chief’s decision to leave

Updated: Apr. 10, 2021 at 7:58 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he had not lost confidence in the embattled police chief and was disappointed to learn of her retirement, but will work with the police commission as they determine who should replace her.

In a surprise announcement Friday, Police Chief Susan Ballard said she will leave her post June 1.

Ballard, speaking in a video message posted online, said she had lost the trust and support of the police commission and the mayor. But Blangiardi, at a news conference Friday evening, pushed back against that characterization and said he has “done nothing but support Chief Ballard.”

[Read more: Saying she no longer has police commission’s trust, HPD chief announces she’ll step down]

Ballard is leaving her post just days after receiving poor marks in her annual performance review and being tasked with making sweeping changes.

The police commission and mayor weren’t informed of her decision to leave before she announced it.

In a statement, the commission said while it was looking forward to working with the chief to improve her performance, it will instead “shift its focus and attention to the transition.”

They added, “We appreciate Chief Ballard’s many efforts, not only her more than 35 years in the department, but also three years as Honolulu’s chief of police where she spearheaded initiatives to assist the community with homelessness and COVID response programs.”

Commission Chair Shannon Alivado said, “Chief Ballard has given up a lot over 35 years of her life to the Honolulu Police Department as a public servant so that needs to be recognized.”

She added, “Honolulu thanks her for her service.”

While the commission will pick the next chief, Ballard’s no. 2 could become interim chief until a permanent selection is made. It’s expected to take months to choose a permanent replacement.

Candidates from all over the country applied before Ballard was selected.

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

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

He added: “This is the only chief that has been through a pandemic, the economy, the loss of two officers right off the bat. It’s something that no other chief that I know of went through.”

City Prosecutor Steve Alm thanked Ballard for her service.

“We look forward to maintaining a good working relationship with HPD and its new chief when she or he is appointed,” he said, in a statement.

This story will be updated.

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