Police commissioner gets praise for asking HPD tough questions

Police commission who asked HPD tough questions gets praise
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu's newest police commissioner is getting praise for holding Honolulu's police chief accountable.

At Wednesday's Honolulu Police Commission meeting, Loretta Sheehan grilled Chief Louis Kealoha over his administration's handling of police misconduct.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who appointed the former prosecutor and domestic violence advocate to the commission, said she was selected to bring a tougher voice to the commission. He added that he'd expect more of that in the future.

"We selected Loretta Sheehan and she was confirmed by the council because we wanted someone who was gonna ask the tough questions," Caldwell said.

At Wednesday's meeting, Sheehan asked Kealoha about a case dating back to 2008 where three HPD officers accused their supervisor of racial discrimination.

"He had called officer Delgadillo 'a beaner, a senorita, a wetback.' And stated, 'who the F would have sex with a big noise Mexican like you?' And 'once you go black,' referring to officer Dowkin's race, 'you never go back' ... correct?" asked Sheehan.

That supervisor was never reprimanded. It's one of many instances of alleged police misconduct Sheehan questioned Kealoha about during the meeting.

Mayoral candidate Charles Djou said Sheehan's tough questions for HPD are long overdue.

"I think there are a lot of members in the community, myself included (who would say) … finally," Djou said. "We have to maintain a stronger level of trust and respect between our police force and the public."

Kealoha was also grilled about the ongoing federal investigation into allegations of public corruption and civil rights violations against him and his wife, Katherine, a deputy city prosecutor.

Meanwhile, others came to HPD's defense, saying that all officers should be painted as bad because of misconduct cases.

"Because we're police officers, the assumption is that waive our Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to due process. So police officers are literally guilty until proven innocent," said SHOPO President Tenari Maafala.

Retired HPD Assistant Chief Barbara Wong said that she has "complete trust in the department."

"The decisions they make (are based on) what they feel is right with the facts that they have," she said.

Caldwell said he believes Sheehan's tough questions on the police commission will help address HPD's accountability questions.

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