HONOLULU (KHON2) — In a video statement published to YouTube, Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard commented on the latest findings from an investigation into possible overtime usage of HPD’s COVID-enforcement team.
In the video, Ballard begins by revisiting the origin of the investigation: a discovery of several instances of alleged overtime usage from officers tasked with responding to COVID-19 violations across Oahu.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic unraveled, HPD was given CARES Act funding to use to enforce COVID violations to keep from taking officers away from their regular duties,” Ballard said.
According to Chief Ballard, a total of 263 officers were found to have claimed to work past their allotted hours, which was set at 20 to 24 hours per week. However, Ballard alleges that in doing so, the officers did not violate any state or federal laws and regulations, but instead an internal departmental set procedure.
“We made one rule,” Ballard explained. “That was officers could only work up to 20 hours per week initially. Then we changed it to 24 hours per week. This rule was not a federal or state law. It wasn’t a requirement of the funding. It was simply an internal departmental set procedure. It was no different than any other procedures that we set for the officers for things such as signing into the weight room, turning in their meter slip on time and only parking in authorized areas.”
Ballard also acknowledged the 11 officers who were questioned for actually working during the hours they claimed. According to the police chief, the cases were turned over to the attorney general. Ballard says a prosecution was declined.
HPD says officers have been directed to undergo divisional counselings. Supervisors who authorized overtime hours will also be required to attend divisional counselings.
The Honolulu Police Commission will be taking up the matter on Wednesday. Commission Chair Shannon Alivado said proper safeguards are needed and the system as it is, is not working.
“If they have the tools necessary in allowing transparency to the issuance of overtime, it may clarify some of these, if you want to call it pukas, in the system,” said Alivado.
Alivado said she is looking to see if an automated system will be able to help flag overtime overages. Chief Ballard said the department is already working on this.
“We have taken steps to control the overtime worked by developing a computer program to track each officer’s overtime,” Ballard said.
Alivado said she hopes it will be a step in the right direction.
“Because we wouldn’t want the officers working so many hours where they’re unable to adequately perform so that has always been a question that the commission has,” said Alivado.
Watch Ballard’s full statement below: