Honolulu’s Police Commission was given broader powers in Tuesday’s election, at a time when the chief remains under a federal grand jury investigation, and facing criticism for matters of officer discipline.

The county charter amendment passed by the second-largest margin of the election, signaling the voters want to see more action by those overseeing the leaders of the police force.

HONOLULU: Police Commission Authority; Investigative Powers

With the vote, the commission now has the following:

  • Greater authority to suspend or dismiss a chief
  • Additional powers to investigate complaints about officer misconduct
  • Requires a written explanation if a chief disagrees with the commission

How will these broadened tools impact department leadership? Always Investigating is following up as the chairmanship is about to change with an outgoing appointee, and its most vocal new member weighs in on how the current chief should be evaluated.

“I am surprised and I wonder if it is a question of leadership at the Honolulu Police Department,” said Loretta Sheehan, Honolulu Police Commission member. “What I think has to happen is a series of confidential conversations with the rank and file.”

Chief Kealoha responds to Always Investigating with an extensive rebuttal on that and other critiques. He outlines what he sees as progress under his tenure and he explains what rights he and any chief should have to explain and improve.

What will all of this mean for the future of this chief, the department, and the public —  that’s all tonight at 10 on Always Investigating.