HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Police Department (HPD) Chief Susan Ballard’s sudden announcement that she will be stepping down in June comes on the same day the State of Hawaii Police Officers’ Union (SHOPO) came out in support of her.
SHOPO president Malcolm Lutu says officers were unhappy with Ballard after being left in the dark on policy changes she wanted to make.
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Lutu says that has changed in the past few months, however.
“Our biggest thing is communication and we feel that as of now, it’s good. It’s open and that’s all we ask for is for her to have her door open,” said Lutu.
He says Ballard had talked about rotating shifts every few months, which is something most of the officers did not want to do. She also talked about implementing quotas. Lutu says Ballard has since met with the rank and file and decided against the changes.
“So by her going to the watches and setting things straight and talking to the members directly, that was huge. And it set a lot of the rumors, it killed a lot of it, and put everybody in the right direction,” said Lutu.
The Honolulu Police Commission says Ballard fell below expectations in leadership and management and pointed out that she did not take responsibility and blamed others. Lutu says it was unfair to put all the blame on Ballard with all the changes HPD was dealing with during the pandemic.
“We didn’t know what was happening, and I think she did the best she could and the officers did the best they could. And the direction we had at that time was basically from the mayors and the governor,” said Lutu.
SHOPO is currently negotiating a new contract for HPD officers. The current contract expires June 30, 2021. While Ballard has changed her mind about having quotas, Lutu says the union is open to some form of minimum standards.
“The officers need to be doing something during their nine hour shift. So whether it be quotas or not, they just need to prove what have you done in those nine hours to protect our community,” said Lutu.