Excitement surrounds pick for Honolulu’s next chief of police

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Maj. Susan Ballard was selected by the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday to be Honolulu’s next chief of police.

Those who have insight into the police department consider her a well-respected leader who deserves the job as the top cop.

Officers tell us they believe Ballard is capable of leading the department in a new direction, and it’s an exciting change.

“She knows how all the officers are feeling, what we’re up against. (There’s) a lot of frustration, and especially with what’s been going on. We’ve been getting a lot of negative feedback,” said Ofc. Cynthia Sanders.

“Morale is up a thousand percent just with the announcement,” said Capt. John McCarthy.

KHON2 asked, “You don’t think we’ll see allegations of corruption in this new administration?”

“Not at all. You have a better chance of getting Snow White in trouble,” McCarthy replied.

KHON2 also spoke with SHOPO, the police officers’ union, a state lawmaker, and a neighborhood board chairman.

They say they like the choice, and all look forward to seeing what kind of changes she will make.

SHOPO’s president, Tenari Maafala, says he’s not at all surprised that the commission chose Ballard to become chief. He’s looking forward to this new chapter and is excited about the possibilities as HPD moves forward.

“This will be a telltale sign for we as officers that we’ll stand united, no matter who sits at the number-one seat in our department so to speak. Whether it’s male or female, let’s move forward for the greater good,” Maafala said.

Maafala says Ballard was open to new ideas when he worked with her briefly at the training academy, and he’s heard nothing but praise from other officers who have worked with her.

“They love working for Chief Ballard. She’s very fair. She’s, with all due respect, like a mother, so not just a commander of the department but a mother, really hearing the pain and the concerns of the officers, whether at work or at home,” said Maafala.

State Sen. Will Espero has been a vocal critic of the police department in recent years.

He says the new chief will need to rebuild the public’s faith in HPD, as well as restore the morale of the officers within the department.

“She needs to be engaged in as many individuals as possible,” Espero said. “She should be an individual who wants to make changes, and that is going to be so important. That will determine the success or failure of her tenure with the department.”

Robert Finley, chair of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board, is also looking forward to what the new chief will bring.

“At this moment, to keep the public satisfied that they’re getting protection, I think she’s going to have to assign more people to Waikiki,” he said.

Finley says the community has been waiting for more cameras to be installed on Kuhio and Kalakaua avenues.

“As the new chief, she might have the horsepower to say, ‘Look, my officers need these cameras to do their job. Let’s get them put in,'” Finley said.

Acting Mayor Roy K. Amemiya Jr.:

“Chief Susan Ballard has a major challenge in restoring public trust in the leadership of the Honolulu Police Department. Mayor Caldwell and his administration look forward to sitting down with Chief Ballard very soon to discuss the long-term vision for HPD and a way forward in restoring the highest degree of confidence in our police department. Officers and members of the public want a leader who lives up to the department’s mission statement of ‘Integrity, Respect and Fairness,’ and we are confident that this is what Chief Ballard will work toward each and every day. On behalf of Mayor Caldwell, I congratulate Chief Ballard on being selected Oahu’s first female police chief, and thank Acting Chief Cary Okimoto for his decades of public service and the outstanding job he has done during the interim period. Additionally, we thank the Honolulu police commissioners for their hard work and diligence throughout this process.”

Honolulu City Council chairman Ron Menor:

“On behalf of the Honolulu City Council, I would like to congratulate Honolulu Police Major Susan Ballard on her selection as the next Chief of our police department. This historic appointment of a veteran officer with 32 years of experience will begin a new era of HPD leadership at a time when our city faces an array of public safety issues that require aggressive enforcement driven by collaboration with the community. We look forward to working with Chief Ballard and her team to help keep Honolulu one of the safest big cities in America while improving management, transparency and accountability within the department.”

Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro:

“I am glad the process is completed. I look forward to working with Chief Ballard.”

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