The Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: SHOPO's Robert Cavaco And Stephen Keogh - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Civil Beat Editorial Board

The members of The Civil Beat Editorial Board are Chad Blair, Patti Epler, Nathan Eagle, Kim Gamel, John Hill and Keona Blanks. Opinions expressed by the editorial board reflect the group’s consensus view. Not all members may participate in every interview or essay. Chad Blair, the Politics and Opinion Editor, can be reached at cblair@civilbeat.org.


Editor’s note: The Civil Beat Editorial Board and reporters spoke on Monday with Robert “Bobby” Cavaco and Stephen Keogh, the president and vice president, respectively, of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. The union leaders began by explaining their focus on communicating better with the media and public. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Cavaco: We both realized that in the past, Civil Beat has not had a good relationship with SHOPO in general because, we believe, that it’s the prior (SHOPO) leadership that was there. Being more open, having communication, open lines of dialogue with any kind of media — that was a priority for us coming into our term when we got elected in January. So we again thank you for having this sit down with us.

As far as a union and things going on, goals and objectives, we have a lot of things going on. We have Maui with the police chief. We did a survey recently, 70% of the membership participated. The results were kind of negative. There’s a lot to improve on with that department. And Chief (John Pelletier) came in to a rocky start for whatever reasons. And the members over there, they really want more communication from him in his administration. Some of the things that he’s doing, some of the things that he’s not doing. So that’s a challenge for us. The reason we did that survey was to try to mend that relationship, to see what the union can do to help the chief. It wasn’t done in a manner to where we want to try and get rid of him — more of hand-lending. So we got that going on with Maui.

Big Island is in this kind of just status quo, as you kind of put it, Chief (Paul) Ferreira is retiring after 40 years. He’s, I think, done wonders for that department and keeping it moving in the right direction. So we wish him well.

SHOPO President Robert Cavaco speaks to Civil Beat reporters in our conference room.
SHOPO President Robert Cavaco spoke to Civil Beat editors and reporters last week. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

And with Kauai, that’s another challenge, just like Maui. There’s been several things that have gone on with that department that I know you guys are aware of, the lawsuit from (Captain Paul) Applegate and the promotion process over there. Some of those discriminatory comments about Asians (from) the police chief (Todd Raybuck). There’s other complaints that are filed from other civilian employees in the department.

You got the debacle at the (Lihue) airport with the deputy chief (Stan Olsen). Crazy enough, the same situation happened just a few days ago. Same circumstances, but it was a civilian. Had a firearm in a backpack, took it through the X-ray. They found it. They actually arrested him — $10,000 bail. And his statement to the department was that same thing with the deputy chief — “I forgot.” And the gun was registered to him, the whole nine yards. So when he packed his bag, he forgot it was in there, went through the X-ray machine.

So we always questioned the disparity of why does somebody who holds the position of deputy chief in that situation, why is he not arrested and or civilly fined or held accountable? But then a civilian with the same circumstances now gets arrested and bail is set and the criminal case moves forward. So we have that going on Kauai.

And in Honolulu, new Chief (Joe) Logan swearing in, new direction for the department. We are following along with what’s going on and hope that the chief moves the department in a beneficial way for our members.

We have our thing going on with prior board member Kawika Hallums. He’s suing (Cavaco and Keogh) civilly and also a criminal case of extortion. We were labeled suspects, so we’re dealing with that right now. We’re confidant that we did nothing wrong. The board followed all the bylaws and the charter and whatnot that the union has, policies and procedures. And we addressed that situation to the best of our ability.

Keogh: We’re happy and grateful to be here with you folks. Our board, when we got elected as SHOPO leadership, we ran on a platform of transparency and communication. That was huge. We feel that SHOPO could improve in a couple of different areas. Internal communication with our own members, we felt that we were deficient there and there was opportunity for improvement. And then when it comes to you folks it’s external communication where we needed to do a better job at giving you access to us.

Specifically, when you ask us for our comments and opinions of things, we feel — and we probably have more in common than you may think — that police agencies need to be transparent with the communities that they serve. The union that represents the brave men and women throughout all the counties in this great state, we have an obligation to externally share with our community what our members are thinking and feeling, and then also do a better job at communicating with our own internal membership.

SHOPO Vice President Stephen Keith speaks to our reporters in conference room.
SHOPO Vice President Stephen Keogh. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Top of mind issues for me: In Honolulu and Maui, we have some morale issues going on. For various reasons, Honolulu and Maui have morale followed up with staffing issues. Now, you could say that the staffing issues create the morale issue. That kind of seems to go hand in hand. But the morale issue also goes to the point of police leadership.

Cops are resilient. They didn’t get into this position because they were not resilient and compassionate but tough at the same time. We’re hoping that Chief Logan here with Honolulu PD can instill a level of confidence from his leadership pulpit that he’s going to be able to help bring the morale up at Honolulu PD.

Maui — Chief Pelletier — we’ve assisted him in trying to identify certain challenges within his department. We did the Maui survey, as Bobby alluded to. It was not meant to embarrass. It was meant to give us, as a union, our members and then the police administrators a road map and where we can do better and where we’re at.

“We ran on a platform of transparency and communication. That was huge.” — Steve Keogh

We also have to touch on retention. We have great, seasoned police officers that have the ability to retire after 25 years of service, assuming that they have more than eight years on the job. We need those individuals to stick around to mentor the newer officers. That’s key. So we need to work on retaining officers that have that experience and then get people to come with the agency.

Kauai — we’re probably going to roll out a survey for them to kind of see where they’re at. So Bobby, myself and the rest of the state board, we want to assist police leadership and the community with feeling that they are connected, plugged in, know what’s going on and do it in a very transparent and open manner.

Can you just very briefly tell me about your backgrounds?

Cavaco: Yes. In August I’ll make 22 years in the department. My rank is lieutenant, and I’m assigned to the traffic division, so I take care or oversee the vehicle homicide section at night and the DUI team or night enforcement unit.

Keogh: I’ve been with Honolulu PD for 15 years. I’m currently a patrol sergeant here in urban Honolulu — Kakaako, Chinatown, the mountain and Ala Moana. I work the afternoon shift, so I supervise officers in the field and within the department.

Based upon some recent events, Bobby and I, about nine days ago, were placed on restricted duty based upon the allegations that we’re in a civil lawsuit. So that’s our background. But currently, we are not able to exercise any type of police authority within the community. We’re not able at the moment to supervise officers.

Because of the lawsuit.

Keogh: Well, it’s not so much the lawsuit. It’s that Honolulu PD Internal Affairs, otherwise known as the Professional Standards Office, took a look at it. I don’t know who took a look at it or what they thought, but they made a decision that there could possibly be some type of criminal case associated with that. So Bobby and I, through our own agency, were listed as suspects in a third-degree extortion case, which is a misdemeanor. We have no insight as to how that investigation is progressing. We have no insight into who they’re speaking with. We’re basically just told you’re a suspect in a criminal case. And because of this, police administration has made a decision to basically relieve us of our police authority. And now Bobby and I, instead of doing what we just shared, we report to work during daytime hours and we do administrative duties at the discretion of our command. How long that’s going to continue is up to the administration.

The Maui PD survey — what’s the reaction been like on the part of Maui PD? What have you heard back since that came out?

Cavaco: Well, it was quite a bit of resistance when our Maui chair, Nicholas Krau, reached out to the chief prior to us being there. We were there for three days to share with him the results first. We had a presentation, PowerPoint and everything, that we did over the three days to different stakeholders, the mayor, managing director, politicians, (county) council, police commission. So we made that gesture to the chief and he really kind of danced around it and didn’t want to meet. So he already had the results of the survey.

The survey was conducted under his watch, is that correct? Although he’s new to the job.

Cavaco: He’s new to the job. It was about four and a half months as chief.

Had you guys ever met him, by the way, in person?

Cavaco: Yeah. We’ve met with him on two or three separate occasions.

We flew to Maui and actually had an hour or two with him and the deputy chief, and we’ve had great discussions.

But a little, you know, uncomfortableness, I guess, being under scrutiny.

Cavaco: Absolutely. Correct.

HPD Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan is sworn in by Judge Edward Kubo at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.
New HPD Chief Joe Logan was sworn in by Judge Edward Kubo June 29 at the Mission Memorial Auditorium. He is HPD’s third permanent chief in only a short time. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The continuing fallout with the chief on Kauai, the racist remarks and so forth — what is your reaction to that? They bring in a cop from outside who doesn’t quite understand the local situation. And then he makes this remark about Asian Americans.

Cavaco: It’s very disturbing that somebody of that high of a rank would make comments like that and has that viewpoint or whatever he did. It’s very disturbing. I was quite surprised that the discipline coming out of that — I mean, if it was somebody of a lower rank …

Discipline or lack of discipline?

Cavaco: Well, yeah, maybe a lack of discipline. Very surprised. And that’s why it’s troubling to us as a police union, where we see discipline being handed out to our members, lieutenant and below. But when we see actions of those that are of a higher rank, when there’s a disparity there, when discipline is not rendered fairly. That’s where I think we have an issue.

What do you think should have happened to him?

Keogh: That’s for those that supervise him to decide. He made his own comments on that. Clearly, people were offended. And as far as discipline, I think that goes to the police commission. They supervise him. So we would defer back to the police commission on that. But to Bobby’s point — accountability — whether you’re the chief of police or you are a brand new officer, as a labor union that represents cops statewide, we feel that no matter what your position in the department is, you need to be held accountable for your actions and conduct.

So the question out there would be, did the police commission adequately address the chief’s statement. And if it was one of the rank and file officers, would the police commission have handled it in that manner? That’s the real question, not whether or not the chief did or didn’t get the right punishment. It’s would those that decided the chief’s quote unquote punishment — would they have come to the same conclusion if it was one of our officers? Like Bobby stated, at the rank of lieutenant, sergeant, an officer. And I think that’s a question for those that follow the police commission.

You guys are now being very public and very accessible and open with the media. You said it’s because you want to be more transparent and that kind of thing. But what’s the end game for you on this? What is it that you hope to accomplish for your members by being more upfront and more open about what police do or what SHOPO does?

Cavaco: We feel that any time a reporter or media reaches out for a comment on a story that affects us or our members, we’d love to just give our input. Because if you don’t give input on anything and you’re being asked, then it leaves the reporter or the agency to make their own conclusion.

Or the readers.

Cavaco: Yeah, the readers, and not have input from a situation where it involves us or our members. When we get called for comment on things that are happening with our members, we’d like to give our side or our viewpoint, our opinions on those particular subjects so that the community can see the officer’s perspective as well. And that’s the whole reason.

We want to make the community and the media understand from an officer’s perspective what they deal with every day. And if we are not open and transparent with the media and available to them, then how can we achieve that objective?

HPD supporters wearing SHOPO shirts stand outside District Court during a preliminary trial in Judge Domingo’s courtroom.
SHOPO has consistently opposed efforts to open officer misconduct records to public scrutiny. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Keogh: That’s an outstanding question, and I’m really glad you asked it. In a nutshell, this guy and me are more vocal because we want the community to view police officers as people. Not robots, not machines. We live in the community. We’re normal people, just like everybody else with a little bit of a different job. We want to empower the community to ask questions to us, to provide more so they’re not guessing or they’re not just getting one side of the story.

And then for our members, how are we serving them? Our members read your articles. Our members read articles that maybe paint policing in possibly more of a negative light. Well, that’s partly, we felt, our fault that we’re not giving you our version of events. We want the media to hear the story of the men and women that wear the uniform every day. As much as we want those in the community that we protect and serve to feel more connected with the officers that they see in the police car.

How does it help you guys as officers to have that relationship with the community that appears to have been missing? Because there is this whole perception of corruption and mistrust. But also, we are very frustrated with the police administration for never answering our questions. And I’m wondering if where this is headed is that you guys are kind of trying to take up that slack or if you’re frustrated with the police administration too. 

Cavaco: Well, we are hoping that the department will come around. We’re seeing that. Chief Logan, I think, did a couple of morning shows last week with the media. But as far as Civil Beat inquiring and getting comment or media and getting comment, we would hope that the department doesn’t just say it’s under investigation and we can’t say anything. I think that does more and more damage.

Keogh: I think that’s a fair question to ask the public relations team that supported multiple chiefs of police. And unfortunately, you brought up — I don’t want to misquote you — you stated about distrust in the department. What were the things you said again?

Mistrust. Corruption.

Keogh: Okay. Our former chief (Louis) Kealoha epitomizes everything you just said. And because of his conduct at the highest level, his conduct made it harder for the officers that patrol this community to do their job.

So I want to clarify one thing respectfully. When you talk about misconduct and mistrust, absolutely. But it was because of the conduct of Chief Kealoha and others. And now we’re finding out (about) the former prosecutor (Keith Kaneshiro). This is opening up. There’s a lot of people that had positions of power and authority that seemed to not live up to the oath they took to the individuals that lived in the community. And it’s unfortunate that the rank and file officers have had to work under that cloud because former HPD leadership made the wrong decisions.

So just to push back a little. Part of our thinking in the media is it’s because of SHOPO too, not just the former chief. We do a lot with misconduct reports and Civil Beat more than anyone has looked into all this. What we see is all these guys getting in trouble and the union steps in and defends them — in a high percentage of cases. The administration has fired them, but then they get their jobs back. And so it looks in many cases — even when the facts are pretty egregious — that some of these folks should be disciplined more strongly.

And so what what I’m really wondering about is what role the union plays in the perception of mistrust. How do you do that and then still help the community believe that you all aren’t just going to bat for these guys no matter what? Maybe the way to ask it is when do you decide that something is so amiss or egregious that you’re not going to take it to arbitration? 

Cavaco: When officers get disciplined and it rises to the level of where they get either suspended and or terminated — when that discipline is meted out, they take that discipline. And then within 20 days of receiving that discipline, they can file a grievance with the union. So they come to us, they file a grievance.

Then we have four steps of the grievance process. The first step is with that officer’s commander, which would be at the division level, like a major, and then the union would assign a business agent. One of our business agents would attend with the officer in that hearing. And basically it would be the union’s discussion with the major to try — if the grievance was filed that the discipline was too severe for the action that the officer took — the business agent at that step one hearing would try and get the major to bring down the discipline.

Left, SHOPO President Robert Cavaco and right, SHOPO Vice president Stephen Keith speak with Civil Beat reporters in our conference room.
SHOPO President Bobby Cavaco, left, and vice president Steve Keogh have launched a significant community relations effort on behalf of the police union in an effort to build trust and support for officers who often need the public’s help to do their jobs. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Nine times out of 10, it gets denied. Then it goes to step two, which is the chief. So then they have a step two hearing, and if it gets denied by the chief, then it goes to step three hearings. So the step three hearing is the city (human resources) and then the union. The city will hear from the department and the union and then the city has the responsibility of saying “yay or nay” where they could reduce discipline if they wanted to and say the chief was wrong or whatnot.

If the city denies it and says “No, the chief made the right call,” then it goes to step four, which is us — arbitration. So now the business agent comes to our monthly board meeting and we have a specific time period to hear these cases, and a business agent comes before and presents the facts and circumstances of the case. And then we as a board decide whether or not to move that case to arbitration. So there’s rules that the board has to follow, too, with labor law. And as far as moving it to arbitration, if the business agent finds flaws in the investigation or that there were some cases that were relative to what the officers conduct was, and those officers were given less discipline or their job back then. We as a union have a fiduciary responsibility to make that, to proceed with that arbitration, to move it forward.

However, if the conduct is egregious and we believe this person should not wear the badge or it’s conduct we feel that this officer went too far, then we’ll deny that arbitration and we won’t proceed. Then at that portion, if we deny going to arbitration, the officer has an opportunity to come back the next month and then try and come in person and try to sway the board to reverse its decision and make it go to arbitration real quickly.

Does that happen often?

Cavaco: Yes. Every month. In fact, last month we denied two.

Keogh: This is the state board. When it gets to decide, when it gets to step four, the state board of SHOPO determines whether or not to proceed with arbitration. The state board can say we are not using union funds or anything like that to continue to arbitrate this case. The department’s ruling, let’s say, stands. So it’s the state board, ultimately, if it gets to that point, that determines whether or not the union should continue to put money into a particular case.

But you say that that does happen, where the state board decides, “No, we’re not going to defend this.”

Keogh: We can’t get into specifics. But to your point we just had two issues come before us in our last meeting where as a state board, we collectively took a vote and we said, “Nope.”

And then make an appeal, as you indicated.

Cavaco: They can come back to appeal. And if they don’t present something that’s, you know, earth shattering, normally we would stand on our decision and it’ll just end right there. That’s the end.

Keogh: Picture the union as the public defender for police officers. Our role as a labor union with our members is to make sure that the various county police departments followed specific collective bargaining, followed the appropriate process and gave out discipline that indicates a past practice. If each county police department had the same discipline for every type of case and didn’t vary from it, our jobs would be easy. We only get involved in cases where we can illustrate that one officer got this discipline, another officer got that discipline, why is there an inconsistency? If the county police departments were consistent with how they held the officers accountable, it would make our job as a union a lot easier. So we act more as a public defender for our officers that are in the investigation process to simply make sure that the appropriate steps are being followed.

How many members do you have?

We have almost 2,700.

And there’s no officer that is not a member of SHOPO, is that correct? Or can they opt out?

Cavaco: They can.

Keogh: Because of the (2018 U.S. Supreme Court) Janus decision, they have to be allowed to do it. I think there’s a handful statewide, but it’s very important what Bobby said. We have a duty to represent our members. If not, we can get sued.

Cavaco: It’s a duty of service of fair representation.

Keogh: If the takeaway from all of this is we are like the public defender. We’re not saying that this officer didn’t do what he’s being accused of. We’re not saying that. We are simply here to make sure that the process is followed. And if the process is not followed, then we raise the flag.

“Picture the union as the public defender for police officers.” — Steve Keogh

But at the end of the day, to your point, Bobby is the president, I’m the VP. We have the executive board, we have a full state board. At the end of the day it’s that board’s cumulative vote that would determine whether or not we continue to represent this member.

The union’s job is to not help portray an officer as guilty or innocent. It’s to make sure that if police administration feels that discipline is necessary, that that discipline is fair and consistent with previous situations accordingly. That’s it. That’s the takeaway.

Are you going to still be using precedent to debate the length and duration of punishment? Because I’m looking at a 2020 review of complaints by the HPD and they say that makes it very difficult for the department to respond to societal and socioeconomic changes, if you’re referring to, like, a 10-year old case and what happened to an officer then versus now?

Cavaco: You know why we have to take that position? It’s more that it relates to labor law, because if we fail to show that disparity among the cases, even though it was years ago and we decide not to move forward with trying to arbitrate the case. If we as a board do not move forward based on those circumstances, then we can be sued or a complaint could be filed with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board for failure of duty of representation.

Sentencing statutes for civilians were always changing, evolving. But for officers, you say your hands are tied. But if you’re looking back at old cases, how is that going to move forward as far as disciplining in kind of a progressive way?

Cavaco: As far as moving forward, I don’t see any change unless the standards of conduct are changed. And I think it’s that way because it’s all based on the standard of conduct, that policy. In that standard of conduct policy, you have a disciplinary chart that the chief has to follow.

People, especially at the neighborhood boards, feel like crime is up. Now, is it up or is it just a perception that crime is up because we had a year or two where everybody stayed home.

Keogh: It’s up. It’s up.

You’ve been here 15 years, you’ve been here 22 years. How does it compare?

Keogh: There is an increase in crime. There is an increase in violent crime. That’s a fact. I think it’s imperative that Chief Logan and his new administration create a solution in conjunction with the neighborhood boards. Any statistics that state crime is lower than what it was are not accurate.

Cavaco: When we did our press conference in February on staffing shortages, we had a heavy increase in the robberies and I think sex assaults. And homicides too. I don’t remember the specifics and the homicides. The smash-and-grabs — Aina Haina, Kahala.

Kailua, too?

Cavaco: Kailua. Kapolei.

Keogh: And you know what? It’s not an acceptable answer as a police administrator to say, “Well, this is the trend that’s happening nationally.” So what if it’s happening nationally? Identify the problem. Create solutions. Work in conjunction with law enforcement agencies and those in the community. And develop the partnership.

And that piggybacks back to your question of why Bobby and I are trying to develop relationships with the community. The more participation you have from members in the community, the less crimes are going to happen. We need witnesses. We need surveillance. We need people to call when they see something suspicious. The more the public is engaged in their police department, the safer the community is going to be. If there is an adversarial relationship between the community and the police department, it’s not going to work well for the officers, it’s not going to work well for the community, and only the bad guys are going to love that.

What is your vacancy rate right now? We’ve heard 300.

Cavaco: Total authorized positions, I believe it’s close to 2,000 — in between 1,900 and 2,000. I’d have to take a look at the information from the department. But the most recent one we’ve seen, it was between 320 and 329 vacancies. Just for Honolulu.

SHOPO hosts Kalihi neighborhood cleanup as supporters clean along Kalihi Street.
SHOPO hosted a neighborhood cleanup in Kalihi in May. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

You hired a California PR firm. Is that a first for the union?

Cavaco: I was on the old board before. I had tried to get the board and president to try and bring that firm on board to assist. And they didn’t want it. They thought it was not worth the money or whatnot. I tried twice and was unsuccessful. So when I got elected we talked about it and we made that decision because, just to Steve’s point earlier, there was communication that was lacking, internal and external. And by bringing them on board, I’m telling you, that’s probably the best decision that the union made.

This how long is the contract for?

It’s a month to month.

Okay. Is it working out for you? You said it’s the best decision.

Cavaco: Best decision we made. They’ve set up a system where now, or through the last several months, that the media will just contact them and say, “Hey, we’re seeking comment for this story. Can Bobby or SHOPO provide comment, etc.?” Then they reach out to me and say, Media is asking, this is the topic, the question, this is who it is, deadline or time or whatnot. Then I’ll say, “Okay,” and then they’ll work with me in providing either the comment, either written comment or setting up the time, location, Zoom, in person and all of that. So that takes that off of my plate. And so when they set it up, they get back to the reporter and then half an hour prior they reach out to me and then we discuss. They give me talking points, you know, just about the subject matter and stuff.

In our internal communication, they set up the email and we have almost 2,000 members, I think. So now when I send out an email, they help us assist with that. And it’s been great.

Why do you guys endorse candidates?

Keogh: SHOPO has always endorsed candidates for years, but we endorse candidates so that when bills come up in the Legislature that affect us and our members, we would have an open line of communication with those legislators so that we can get our comment in and weigh in on the bill and what’s being proposed.

I do want to say that during this election cycle, we have not given any monetary endorsements to anybody.

The endorsements do not include cash donations to the campaign?

Cavaco: Prior, yes, it would be endorsement plus (a donation).

Because it sounds like a quid pro quo — “I’m going to give you money and then I’m going to call you if I have a bill that’s making me unhappy.”

Keogh: These are all fair questions that you’re asking. When we choose to endorse a candidate, the way that we would stand behind them is to possibly participate in sign-waving events and or do some type of media release with pictures. We, this board is not taking the position where any politicians need to get money from our members. So nobody is getting a financial donation.

That’s interesting. That’s the first time?

Cavaco: We haven’t made any contribution and we don’t plan on it.

Keogh: As a board, we made a decision that we are not providing any financial contribution to a candidate. If they want our support, it can be in the form of sign waving and doing various photos on social media. We plan on, you know, doing some work with the paper advertisement and whatnot.

And as far as your question, why do we support a candidate? It’s not really that complicated. It’s the same reason why you would vote for a candidate. We feel that that candidate would best represent our members when they go in whatever government position they’re going in.

By not giving a contribution, was it also, though, a recognition that there’s a pay-to-play kind of situation? That it doesn’t look good?

Keogh: We were very clear with each candidate that our endorsement was not predicated on party. It was predicated on the individual having the characteristics and the belief system that the members do. We are not giving any monetary donations. Now, I’m not saying that as a board we couldn’t revisit that.

Don’t hold us to that in perpetuity. It’s just currently this board is saying, “Nope, we’re not doing it.” Yeah. And to Bobbie’s point earlier, I think this was important. The total number of endorsements that we gave to politicians — how many people do we endorse?

Cavaco: I’d say it’s the high 30s, statewide.

Keogh: We were extremely, extremely prudent in our vetting of the candidates that came to us. We were very, very conservative with the endorsements we gave out. Because this board, we have a political action committee. We met with every candidate that got an endorsement. Bobby, myself, the treasurer. It was not just talk on the phone. It was, “We have an open door at SHOPO. You’re welcome to come down. Sit down with us. Answer all of our questions, whether they’re uncomfortable or not.” And after that basic interview process, then we would choose to make an endorsement or not. And we didn’t make it upon party lines. You’ll see in this election cycle, we endorse candidates that were running on the Republican ticket. We were endorsing candidates that ran on the Democratic ticket.

And, of course, we have a lot of races that are nonpartisan as well.

Cavaco: We endorsed three candidates in the same race.

Keogh: We felt individually that the qualities that these people had — again, this is more of a guide for our members to possibly follow — we said, “Listen, different parties, different people.” Actually, all three of these people impressed us.

So what’s going on with the contract negotiations? Are they still in play or what’s happening with that?

Cavaco: It’s all completed pending the arbitrator’s decision. So May 23, we had interest arbitration with the city and then the union and then the arbitrator and a three-person panel. And so that’s been completed. I believe July 8 is the day where our attorneys (have) the deadline to submit their final briefs. And then the arbitrator has 30 days — so up until Aug. 8 — to render a decision.

And can you say what’s new or good or better or what you guys like about it?

Cavaco: We’re just optimistic. I think that we presented a good argument for compensation raises and whatever was on the table. I think that we’re optimistic.

Keogh: A good contract is going to be important for recruitment and retention.

Because that is perhaps your biggest problem.

Keogh: The short answer is a good contract could assist with retention and recruitment.

Cavaco: There’s departments in the mainland West Coast that are offering $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 signing bonuses. So we’re behind the eight ball.

I guess my only other thing is, since this is our first meeting and hopefully there will be more from time to time, what do you think Civil Beat could do better or should do better? We’re much more of an in-depth organization, we’re not going to run out to a crime scene. We’d love to have better access, but I understand police are suspicious of Civil beat. What can we do to build that relationship?

Keogh: You guys continue to do exactly what you do and change nothing. The only thing that we would ask is, you reach out for our side of the story — keep doing exactly what you do, how you do it — but give us the courtesy to provide a comment with the information that you have. And that’s where, with all due respect, there’s opportunities for improvement. But again, on our side, we weren’t giving you any statements, but now that you see where we’re at — change nothing. Keep doing you.


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You May Soon See People Openly Carrying Guns In Hawaii


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Civil Beat Editorial Board

The members of The Civil Beat Editorial Board are Chad Blair, Patti Epler, Nathan Eagle, Kim Gamel, John Hill and Keona Blanks. Opinions expressed by the editorial board reflect the group’s consensus view. Not all members may participate in every interview or essay. Chad Blair, the Politics and Opinion Editor, can be reached at cblair@civilbeat.org.


Latest Comments (0)

I was once a SHOPO member, from Aug 1971 to Sep't 1976. I resigned my HPD app't because one time I went to Hana and found thee was one officer there. He handled about the same workload in ONE year as I did in one DAY! But that's because of the state union, SHOPO. So after my Hana visit, I decided to leave HPD. Plus the pay was very low at HPD at that time. Today, HPD is still considered a very low-paying department. I currently live in San Jose, CA where the starting pay is about triple that of the starting pay at HPD. Eddie

EddieLo · 5 months ago

I like that these guys are trying to do a good job of improving the public's perception of police officers. But unfortunately, with the highly regressive procedure for defending officers accused of misdeeds, we are only on a race to the bottom. SHOPA feels it must look for any case, no matter how far back, in which an officer was treated more leniently, even if that was an outlier decision. So we're stuck. We keep seeing police officers, who are there to enforce our laws, getting more--sometimes much more--lenient treatment than the people they arrest. When the public sees police getting away with breaking laws with little or no penalty, it does not lead to respect for police and may even increase crime. I think we need a law that says that a police officer who is charged with a crime must be brought to trial immediately. An internal investigation's results can be brought to court, rather than deciding a case secretly. Our possibly corrupt former prosecutor seems to have been partially responsible for not prosecuting police criminals, and I hope our current prosecutor will continue to try to prosecute them.

JusticePlease · 5 months ago

Impressive interview and guys, but they totally misrepresent the law when it comes to using past discipline and a hard cap on future discipline. It’s a guide, and each CBA allows a new set of punishment to be agreed upon and enforced regardless of the past. Look at the NFL and domestic abuse. Same set of labor laws.Also interesting that they admitted they defend guilty parties on purely technical grounds. They didn’t seem to acknowledge why they gives SHOPO a dubious reputation. If a cop beats me up I don’t want them avoiding punishment because a fellow cop screws up some paperwork.

Keala_Kaanui · 5 months ago

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