At swearing-in, prosecutor pledges renewed effort to tackle crimes against tourists

At swearing-in, prosecutor pledges renewed effort to tackle crimes against tourists

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Keith Kaneshiro was sworn in Monday for his fifth term as city prosecutor, vowing to make his office more accessible to the media and to crack down on crimes against tourists.

"We will continue to advocate for victims and to be their voice in the criminal justice system," he said.

But Kaneshiro's latest term also comes amid growing turmoil in local law enforcement.

Last month, Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha took a leave of absence just hours after he received a letter from federal prosecutors informing him that he is a target of a federal public corruption probe.

And the chief's wife and one of Kaneshiro's top deputies, Katherine Kealoha, is a key subject of that federal investigation.

Kaneshiro himself has been asked to go before the grand jury several times to produce records relating to Katherine Kealoha's cases. But he has refused.

"The federal grand jury has been asking for information that's in our office and are asking for confidential investigations that we have had that I have refused to disclose to them because it's our investigation," Kaneshiro said.

Kaneshiro said the federal probe has not affected his office's operations but critics believe it has hurt morale.

"Obviously, he has this whole Kealoha catastrophe ... not only with what the chief has done but also what his right-hand deputy has done in the prosecutor's office," said former Mayor and Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle.

"It just begs the questions of where's the competence and the ability in that office. And it doesn't seem to exist at all and it's largely because I don't think he's bright enough to figure it out."

Carlisle believes Katherine Kealoha shouldn't remain on the job, but Kaneshiro is putting her in charge of a new initiative to go after high-priority criminals using criminal data collected by law enforcement.

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