Honolulu Police Commission gives Chief Ballard scathing annual evaluation

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Commission is placing Chief Susan Ballard on an improvement plan, demanding she be more forthcoming as she faced her third annual evaluation.

The commission says Ballard fell below expectations in the areas of leadership and managerial skills, which commissioners say raises serious concerns.

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“There is poor communication within the department and solutions need to be better articulated throughout command staff and the department. And that when problems arise, Chief Ballard must avoid laying any blame on the individual command staff,” said Shannon Alivado, Honolulu Police Commission chairwoman.

The evaluation adds that Ballard has a tendency to be dismissive. She did not accept constructive criticism at times and berated others in front of their peers within the department. That compromised the morale of the officers.

Ballard has been under fire for questionable purchases of police equipment using federal CARES Act money, among them was a $150,000 robot dog.

There were also problems with overtime abuse by officers working in the COVID-19 enforcement teams. Ballard said, more than 260 officers violated policy and abruptly halted the enforcement to investigate the abuse.

The Commission pointed out that Ballard did not take responsibility for her actions and blamed supervisors and commanders during the overtime issues.

“As a result of this evaluation, the commission seeks substantial improvement in the following areas … the elimination of the cultural blame within the department. We ask that Chief Ballard, with the help of her command staff, anticipate and mitigate risks inherent in any important decision,” said Alivado.

The Commission adds that Ballard needs to take more responsibility for the response of the department and improve in relaying information.

“We would like to see improved reporting of crime and case closure statistics that are reported to the commission and to the public, improve management of department overtime, improve communication with the media and the public, and improve communication with the department,” said Alivado.

Ballard was not present when the Commission released the evaluation because she had a medical appointment. She released a statement saying, “I don’t believe that this evaluation conveys the views of most officers and professional staff… While I am disappointed, I always say that there is room for improvement and will assess what is the best way to move forward.”

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