HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu’s new interim police chief Rade Vanic said in a news conference on Friday, June 4, that some of his priorities were addressing crime and morale in the department, as well as filling vacancies.
There are currently around 300 vacancies.
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Vanic was appointed to the position after a unanimous vote by the Honolulu Police Commission on May 4 during their bi-monthly meeting. He began serving as the acting chief on June 1, following Chief Susan Ballard’s retirement.
During Friday’s news conference, Vanic also said that HPD can do better in addressing racial bias and needs a more specific policy on releasing bodycam footage.
Vanic touched upon several issues; transparency, racial bias and the release of bodycam footage. When asked if he’s applying for chief as a permanent position, he says he wants to keep that confidential.
“Out of respect for the commission and the process, I’ll decline to answer that question at this time,” he said.
When asked about racial bias, Vanic said, “Unlike a lot of departments across the nation we represent all of the different cultures here in Hawaii, it’s a melting pot. Of course that being said, we can always do better. Hawaii is not unlike other very large metropolitan cities where we have big-city problems as well.”
The issue became a hot topic in the two fatal police shootings, which are now embroiled in wrongful death lawsuits. HPD released bodycam footage from one and not the other, bringing criticism that HPD only releases video if it benefits them.
Vanic says he wants to have a more consistent policy and is looking at only releasing footage when the investigation is done.
“It’s not if we’re going to release, it’s we will release it at some point. We just want to make sure that when we do release it, it doesn’t have other effects on criminal investigations,” said Vanic.
At the same time, he says he also recognizes the importance of making sure the department is transparent to rebuild the public’s trust.
“Definitely a positive relationship with the media is something that I value. As far as transparency, I know it’s more than just a word. Hopefully you see by things like this, making myself available,” said Vanic.
HPD was also criticized when officers did not identify themselves right away when confronting Lindani Myeni in the Nuuanu fatal shooting. Vanic says the department will continue to train officers on the importance of identifying themselves, but it is not always required.
“Obviously there are times when, let’s say in a crisis situation, when they have to react very abruptly for whatever reason, that that may not always be the case,” said Vanic.