In light of national push for police reform, HPD chief says changes already in the works

Local News

The use of excessive force and police reform are hot topics in police departments across the country. And today HPD Chief Susan Ballard addressed the issues by saying changes are already in the works.

Ballard says HPD is reviewing its use of force policy and for now, officers won’t be using vascular neck restraint or VNR on a suspect. It’s a move that is similar to a chokehold.

“I did make a decision this morning and I hesitated to do it because I don’t like taking things away from the officer that may help them out on the road. But I felt that it was important for us to review our use of force policy before we continue on and that decision was to temporarily stop any use of the VNR,” she said.

Ballard says VNR is a more precise martial arts technique, only used as a last resort, and has only been used five times in the past year.

Ballard also says, in the past year, officers were getting formal training on intervening when a fellow officer may be using excessive force.

“You need to be their wing person and step up and intervene. So bottom line, excessive use of force is not gonna be tolerated here at the Honolulu Police Department,” said Ballard.

She says there’s also annual training on racial bias. She adds that it’s not much of a problem here because of all the different races within the community.

“Everybody’s family knows somebody who’s a police officer. So it’s really a whole different dynamic over here than it is on the mainland,” said Ballard.

In light of the protests, some mainland cities are moving toward defunding their police department. It would put more money on social issues and less on police. Ballard says officers here are called on for too many of the social problems. But she says defunding would make matters worse.

“The social workers are awesome, they do a fantastic job. The problem is there’s not enough of them, and by defunding the police department and taking away those assets to address those issues before you have enough resources to replace them, it would end up being a travesty for our community,” she said.

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