Disappointment, relief among lawmakers over police chief’s retirement terms

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Embattled police chief Louis Kealoha will receive $250,000 to retire from the Honolulu Police Department.Click here for more on the terms of his retirement deal.

That amount is not sitting well with city lawmakers who say taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay it.

Chief Louis Kealoha’s retirement deal did not need the city council’s approval, but city council member Ron Menor believes the council should have at least been briefed on the commission’s decision.

Instead, they were left in the dark.

“I was disappointed that the commission did not brief the council prior to arriving at their decision. However, I do understand the fact that this matter involves a confidential personnel matter,” he said.

Council member Kymberly Pine was most concerned about her constituents.

“For my constituents that don’t ever see that kind of money in the lifetime, it’s frustrating for them that we are in the situation,” she said. “In fact, it’s very sad for the taxpayer. We have a police department and the prosecutor’s office. It is meant to protect us, and it’s in the midst of being investigated by the federal government.”

Council member Ikaika Anderson disagrees with the police commission that there should have been any severance pay for the outgoing chief.

“I would have rather the police commission waited until the federal investigation played out before coming to any decision. However, if the chief had elected to retire, I would be comfortable allowing him to retire and allowing him to receive the benefits and pension he’s earned, but nothing more at this point,” he said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell released the following statement in response to the agreement terms:

“As the appointing authority with exclusive oversight of the Chief of Police, the Police Commission reached a retirement agreement with Louis Kealoha that allows the Honolulu Police Department to move forward in its search for a new leader. Failing to resolve this situation in a timely manner could have resulted in further delays and could have cost the taxpayers even more money, as the Police Commission would have been required to follow a termination procedure – if they decided to terminate him – that could have taken weeks, if not months or years, if appeals were taken. Like many residents of Honolulu I’m concerned about the use of taxpayer funds as stated in this agreement, but allowing this situation to linger is not in the best interest of our men and women in blue, or the people of the City and County. I appreciate the fact that, should Kealoha be indicted and found guilty of a felony within six years of the signed agreement, he has agreed to return those funds to the city. I’m confident the Commission will select a new police chief who has the experience and background that will allow HPD to retain its Gold Standard accreditation, while also keeping Honolulu one of the safest big cities in the nation.”

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