In wake of Memphis case, commission grills HPD chief about slow discipline for officers accused of wrongdoing

Chief Logan has saved his comments about the Memphis case for today's meeting of the police commission. He said HPD training made such gang violence unlikely.
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The swift firing of the Memphis police officers charged in the beating death of Tyre Nichols is leading to call for change in Honolulu.

HPD Chief Joe Logan said Wednesday he doesn’t have the power to immediately discharge a police officer, which raised even more questions about police discipline at a Honolulu Police Commission meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Logan had saved his comments about the Memphis case for the meeting.

He said HPD training made such violence unlikely here.

GRAPHIC: Impassioned calls for police reform at Tyre Nichols’ funeral

But the rapid discipline in Memphis led to an unusual barrage of questions from police commissioners about why HPD’s system is so slow. Commissioner Ann Botticelli asked, “How they can act so quickly in Memphis but our process goes so long in Honolulu?”

Logan said immediate termination is not available to him due to union contracts and department policies.

“We can take action,” Logan said. “In other words, taking somebody off the street, taking away their badge and gun, taking away their police powers and and putting them in an administrative position until adjudication of the incident.”

But commissioners compared the Memphis case to the 2021 police chase and crash in Makaha that caused multiple critical injuries. Officers suspected of causing the crash and covering up their involvement are still under criminal and internal investigation. They are on desk duty ― with city-paid attorneys ― 17 months after the incident.

HPD discipline report reveals cellblock beating in which officers were fired, suspended

Commissioner Richard Parry called that “excessive for an internal investigation” and compared it the the firings in Memphis.

“They’ve acted very quickly in their incident we’re nearly a year later and we still haven’t gotten a response on that and it just seems how incredibly different that is,” Parry said. Logan responded, “Yes, the incidents are severe and we have to, one, think of the community we also have to think of our officers too are we taken actions that are too drastic.”

Commission Chair Doug Chin added:

“When it doesn’t get resolved I think it hurts public trust and people question whether or not what’s really going on.”

Logan said he’d like to make the process faster, but “to make sure we’ve tied all the investigative components together, crossed all the T’s dotted all the I’s, to make sure we’ve done a thorough investigation, unfortunately that takes time.”

The commissioners were also concerned about how many officers ended up fighting their punishment through union grievances and how many were reduced.

The chief said he would have to work with the police union SHOPO to see if there was any way to streamline the process.