Affording Kealoha severance could mean cuts to public safety programs

Affording Kealoha severance could mean cuts to public safety programs
Updated: Feb. 1, 2017 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The money to fund a hefty severance payment to outgoing Honolulu Police Department chief Louis Kealoha is not in department's budget, and paying for it may require a cut in spending that could jeopardize public safety programs, according to testimony heard Wednesday during city police commission meetings.

Cary Okimoto, the acting head of the Honolulu Police Department, told commissioners on Wednesday that HPD does not have the funds to pay Kealoha's $250,000 severance, which was negotiated by the commission without consulting Okimoto or the department's employees.

"Our budget is really tight, and we can't afford to use that money to pay," said Okimoto, who added that he wasn't sure how the department was going to be able to fund the severance payout.

Assistant Chief Bill Axt, who also spoke at the commission meeting, said using HPD money to fund the severance payment may require balancing the budget in other ways, including cuts that could impact programs designed to improve public safety.

"Whether that comes from current expense by cutting something else, or, we don't know what that is," said Axt. "Do we stop testing some sex assault kits? Do we stop buying some tasers or some body cameras? We don't know what that is."

Kealoha's last official day as Honolulu police chief is March 1, but he has been on paid leave since receiving an FBI target letter back in December.

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