The retired Honolulu Police Department lieutenant who recently received a $550,000 payout from the city spoke on Wednesday before the Honolulu Police Commission.
Dee Ann Koanui didn’t talk about the lawsuit or the settlement, but rather she said she’s concerned that Chief Susan Ballard is promoting one of her friends, even though he’s had disciplinary issues in the past.
Less than a month after being awarded a huge settlement from the city, Koanui sat before the police commission, alongside her sister, during the part of the meeting set aside for public testimony. She had a three minute time limit to get her message across.
“She’s going to promote him to major on Friday. This is the second time they have a chance to do what’s right. I think they need to realize that,” Koanui told the commissioners.
Koanui’s concerned about one of the current HPD captains who’s being promoted to major. He’s someone who’s been a longtime friend of Chief Ballard, and who’s had disciplinary issues in the past.
Koanui spoke about an incident at the police academy in which that person was in charge of the dojo and changed tactics that she said resulted in a number of injuries.
“I reported all of the above to SHOPO, the chiefs, internal affairs, the city EO, Police Commission, and the Ethics Commission. Nothing was done and the injuries continued,” Koanui said.
The rank of major is one step below assistant chief. Majors are the ones in charge of the various districts and divisions. There’s no written test given when captains are applying for major. Instead there’s an interview with the chief and two deputy chiefs.
It may be too late though. The promotion ceremony already happened and the changes are already set to go into effect this coming Sunday.
Koanui’s whisteblower lawsuit was settled last month, ten years after being filed. On March 8, the City Council approved a $550,000 payout to Koanui.
She had filed the suit claiming that when Chief Ballard was a major and in charge of the police academy, that she told her to give a passing grade to a recruit who failed part of a fitness test, and ordered her to shred failed written exams.
“Currently HPD is going through a shortage of officers. What are you willing to allow Chief Ballard to do to fill these vacancies? Change scores, harass people that report infractions, back her up and give her raving reviews even though the officer involved shootings are off the charts under her command?” Koanui said.
The commissioners listened to Koanui’s testimony, and then moved on to the next agenda item. The commissioners do not make decisions immediately on anything said during the public testimony portion of the meeting.
Chief Ballard declined an interview after the commission meeting, but instead said she stands by her previous statement. In that statement, she said she stands by all of her decisions.