The Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan - Honolulu Civil Beat

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 Matthew Leonard. 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

Chief Joe Logan and two deputy chiefs discuss public outreach, recruitment issues, police discipline and wellness, body cameras and more.

Editor’s note: The Civil Beat Editorial Board spoke last week with Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan and Deputy Chiefs Keith Horikawa and Rade Vanic. This interview has been edited for length and clarity and for future stories.

I was actually looking through our headlines: June 17, “New Honolulu Police Chief Vows Transparency After Troubled Start.” Priorities include increasing the public trust. So I thought we’d just check in and see how things are going a little more than six months later.

Logan: Eight and a half months later. As much as I can be I’m out in the public. People invite me to various speaking engagements. I’m doing interviews on television and the Rick Hamada show either weekly or monthly. So we’re out there trying to meet with them, go to town hall meetings, other open events that are out there that other people have. And so we get invited to those to try to get out to everything in the public. It’s busy, though, but we’re doing the best we can.

So those words “transparency” and “public trust,” do you feel that you’ve made some concrete steps in that direction? Do you hear things when you go and visit these folks about wanting to trust HPD being a little wary because of history?

Logan: There might be a small pocket of people that might be a little leery of the police department. But I equate it to a military construct — the hearts and minds of the people of the City and County of Honolulu. I think by and large the Honolulu police department is trusted. Do we have some officers that somehow have performed in actions or behaved in a manner that is trying to interfere with that trust? Yes, we do. Every department does. We hire from the human race. Unfortunately people are human and do make mistakes and are not perfect. None of us are perfect, but we do the best.

Civil Beat’s Editorial Board met with HPD on Thursday. From left are are Deputy Chief Rade Vanic, Chief of Police Joe Logan and Deputy Chief Keith Horikawa. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

We have a really good training academy. We train our officers properly. We have the right amount of supervision from the top to the bottom. And so I think with all of that, we’re aligning our officers to do the right thing. And so I think that trust is there.

I’ve gone out to town halls in District 8 in Kapolei and Waianae and Nanakuli. I’ve gone to Aiea and I’m working towards the Windward side. And so far everyone that I’ve talked to is very supportive of the Honolulu Police Department, thanks me for my leadership and the ability to come in at this time in the department and look forward to whatever changes I have in store for the department.

What are the three or four things that you’ve seen now that you’ve been here for eight and a half months that you’re trying to focus on as chief?

Logan: So I’m focused on recruiting and retention and officer wellness as a more broader term. So how do we encourage and help our officers? You know, I tell them when I see them in various stages, either when they first come in the academy or when I go out and about to meet them at the various districts and watches — our Job One is to remove obstacles for them to to reach their highest potential that they would like to be and to get them from where they are now to retirement and then enjoy life after that.

And so how do they do that? And that’s physical, mental, spiritual health, and serving with your heart first, thinking through your head second, and then your actions last. So officer wellness as a whole.

Not here in Hawaii so much but on the mainland, when I went to the major city chiefs conference, we talked about officer suicides. There are officers, unfortunately, out there that do take their own life at a higher rate than who are being killed by criminal elements that are attacking our police officers across the nation. And so that’s important. And so that’s something that is on my mind. I want to make sure that all of our officers are physically healthy and mentally healthy.

And so how do we do that? Those are the things I’m looking at some changes possibly in the future. We have our officers do an annual physical every year to make sure they’re physically fit and all the body parts are working properly, but not the brain so much as a mental check. And so is there a way for us to do that even as an add needed basis? We have an early recognition program where supervisors see an individual that may be struggling and advise them into seeking mental health assistance.

Chief Logan met with the Honolulu Police Commissioners Wednesday. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

But by and large, it’s just an annual checkup to talk to somebody and say, “Hey, how are you doing?” And not to take the job away or remove badges and guns from people, but just as a quality check to say how you do it right. Spouses and significant others do that on a regular basis, when their police officers come home and they kind of unwind. But this is more of a professional who can look at it from a different attitude. So something I got to work with the union and of course human resources to get through all that. But those are the things I’m looking at.

How is recruiting going?

Logan: Our applications have come down from 6,000 to maybe high 2,000s, but we’re still hiring about 100 a year. And so I think we’re doing okay recruiting-wise. And then the classes are smaller. We’re running six a year instead of three larger classes, so there’s more one on one, teacher to student ratio is much reduced. So if somebody is having an issue in class, we’re able to get with them, find out what’s the issue, what’s a concern? How do we help you? Tutor, study, do what the things you need to do. But at the same time, if an individual is not going to live up to the standards that we have, then we don’t keep them around too much longer. We maybe entice them into finding something else to do.

Do you have any numbers or statistics on sort of the hiring gap now? Like how many open positions there are?


And how big is the force?

About 1,800 sworn.

Okay. So that’s a huge hole to fill.

Logan: We’re better than other departments on the mainland, but we’re not better than all the departments on the mainland. Every police department is having the same issue with retention, but the same as the City and County of Honolulu. There are over 3,000 vacancies throughout the City and County government, not to mention the state and not to mention all the help wanted signs you see around the island, in restaurants and stores and departments and other things. And so I think it’s a society change from Covid time. Something has happened, right? Whether that is the anti-law enforcement (movement) — I don’t think so much here, maybe on the mainland, their experience of that.

Honolulu is still one of the safest cities in United States, and it will remain that way for quite a long time.

Joe Logan

But here I think people have just decided to work differently and I think it’s cyclical. So I think it’ll play itself out another year or two and then we’ll see the numbers coming back in because people want a steady job. They want a job where you’ve got medical, you’ve got a retirement, dental, vision, those kinds of plans, things that you’re paying for that and the agency is matching and helping you pay for those things. And so those things maybe just aren’t enticing to the the general public or the younger generation right now. But I think as as they continue to see the market and how things are going — and maybe they’re not the professional social influencer, they want to be making six figures — that they realize and want to go back to brick and mortar kind of thing, which would be back into an organization that you actually have to come to work and do.

Do you do you get a sense that the folks who are going into police work are doing it for the right reasons? You hear a lot about wanting to help people or, in my generation, it was folks coming out of the Vietnam War and they were military. What’s your sense of why people are going into police work these days?

Logan: I think that the recruits that I’ve talked to and the people that are graduating, they come from all walks. Some are military, some are civilian, some are law enforcement families. One person was a waiter at a very nice high-end restaurant. And some worked in department stores and other things. One was a nurse. But they want to serve their community. So they want to change from what they do and come and help others in the community.

And so I think, by and large, that is still the reason that attracts people to law enforcement, as a sense of purpose to serve higher than yourself. To give back to the community that you live in and to help with the safety and security of everyone. I think those values are still there.

So the recruiting issue and this 360 figure — I think that’s been around for a couple of years now. And so it sounds like it hasn’t really been reduced.

It goes up and down, depending on who’s coming through the cycle.

You mentioned the city vacancies, which has been a problem. And we’ve found out that part of that problem is procedural, the bureaucracy that they have to go through. Is that something similar with the police department and is that something that you can improve?

Vanic: In years past, we had to go through the department of human resources, the city HR system, to get all of our recruitment, all of our hiring for both civilian and sworn personnel. But over the years, through past administrations and even through Chief Logan’s administration, we were able to work with the city to get a delegation agreement so that we do our own recruitment and hiring. So even all of that administrative paperwork and things that need to get taken care of.

Recruitment of officers continues to he a top priority for HPD. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

There still are some aspects because we’re part of the city. Payroll and stuff like that that need to go through the city. But a lot of the red tape that used to be part of the on-boarding system no longer exists because we’re able to do it ourselves. We actually went from taking anywhere from eight months to a year and a half even to bring somebody on board from the time they applied to the time they start the academy, to now we’re about three or four months.

Chief had mentioned, despite the fact — and this is a nationwide trend, that not just our department is doing — even though they’re seeing a reduction in the number of people applying here in Hawaii, we’ve seen that same reduction, but we’re able to still hire about the same number of people. In the previous year we had about 96, the year before that we had around 98. So we’re still getting about 100 despite the fact that we have greatly reduced the number of applicants. So I think part of the reason is because we’re able to kind of cut out some of the extra paperwork and extra stuff that slows the process down.

Logan: Some people would find another job in that year that it took to be hired. They’d be like, “Maybe I’m not going to make it, so I’m going to go find something.” And so they’re not interested.

When he became chief, Logan restructured his top deputies, convincing Horikawa, right, to return to the department from retirement. Vanic, left, had been acting chief before Logan got the job. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Going back to something you said earlier about when you were talking to your fellow police chiefs on a national level, that the suicide rate in some cases is higher than the death rate, is that the case in Hawaii? Is that something that you’re seeing?

Logan: Well, we’re not seeing our officers being attacked like the mainland is experiencing.

Can you talk just a little bit about how the pressures are different here? There it’s often a Black-white issue. Whereas in Hawaii, the dynamics are different.

I think because we’re a very diverse community in the City and County of Honolulu and writ large the state of Hawaii. We have all nationalities, all races, all creeds and colors. And we welcome everyone into the police department. And so I don’t think we have the same issues and concerns that our mainland police departments are experiencing in that — like I said earlier — because the hearts and minds of most people in Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu trust the Honolulu Police Department. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but they trust the Honolulu Police Department. And other departments don’t have that same luxury. They’re in cities where there’s probably a majority that don’t like police, due to ideologies and politics and some other things, which we’re not really experiencing here.

And so I think, yes, Honolulu is still one of the safest cities in United States, and it will remain that way for quite a long time. Is there crime? Yes, there is. Every city has unfortunately, people who don’t treat each other with dignity, respect. And therefore, we have law enforcement organizations to keep people in line that aren’t following the norms of what people think is normal behavior. That’s where we’re different. And because we all get along, we all kind of went to school with each other, we understand the cultures. We’re not a melting pot. We’re more like I would consider a beef stew. We’re all different elements of the stew, but we’re in the same sauce. So we all get along. We’re a gated community too.

One thing that seems different here too is there seems to be a lack of gun violence that you see in other cities. Do you think that that’s true? Do you think it’s getting worse?

I think gun violence, as people are using guns to commit violent acts, is low. Are there people with guns out there? Yes. The National Incident-Based Reporting System, NIBRS, they categorize it as weapons and weapons offenses. So that could be anything. It could be a sword, a knife, a gun, whatever device you’re using as a dangerous instrument. So we have a high increase of that. People are using devices other than firearms. I notice in several robberies — it’s either by force or by a knife. There have been occasions where firearms were used, there are probably a lot of criminals carrying guns, but there’s just not a lot of violence right now around guns.

To just move on to your response to the events in Memphis and Tyree Nichols — you came out very strongly with a statement saying that the incident will cast a pall over law enforcement for the foreseeable future. Could you talk about two things I’m interested in. One is the role of supervisors, because we see in these incidents often the failure of supervision potentially, and then also the duty to intervene, which is something you’re also promoting within the force itself.

Logan: The deputy chief from Memphis was at the (major cities chiefs) meeting just last week in D.C. He was apologizing for the actions of his officers. But we as police chiefs kind of said there’s not an apology required. We all do not condone that. We wouldn’t condone in our own department from our own officers. And so we think that Memphis took all the right actions for what it needed to do. They needed to take immediate action against the five officers. And so you’re exactly right. It’s supervision. If you look at the video, there’s there’s no sergeant on scene. So these individuals were not properly supervised, or if they were supervised, the sergeant wasn’t there at the time. There’s a lot of facts I don’t know about it.

HPD police officers stage before the Aloha Freedom Coalition march from the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki on saturday.
Officers on the job at Kapiolani Park. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

But we did get into a conversation about immediate supervision and how important that is. And we rely on our sergeants and lieutenants who run their sectors and watches, and that’s their duty. And so we empower them to lead at that level. And right now they’re doing a really good job at what they need to do in supervising their people.

Could it happen to any police department? Absolutely. And that was one of the conversations. Any one of our departments it could happen to. And so we need to, as leaders, be prepared for that. I brought some of the information back that I gathered and put it out through our chain of command so that our our leaderships, our leaders all understand that. Be prepared, be forewarned that this could happen and make sure that you’re educating your officers that, one, we don’t condone this kind of behavior. And number two, we trained you better than that.

I saw that (Police Commissioner) Ann Botticelli asked at the Police Commission the question that I think a lot of people in the public might wonder: How come those Memphis guys got fired and they’re gone, and here, you guys try to discipline and fire and they never seem to leave until years later when SHOPO’s process is finally done. I think people do have that question about why other places something happens and officers are just gone and here they’re not.

Logan: One, collective bargaining agreement through the unions and us, we have a system for that. We have a four-step grievance process for discipline. And so that’s how our officers are engaged in that process. And that process takes a while. It just doesn’t happen — every week you start a new step, right? There’s time limits and things in between that happened.

Memphis was different. I just found out that the Memphis Police Department had an agreement with the city of Memphis to take certain actions in egregious events that occurred. We don’t have an agreement with our City and County of Honolulu that would allow me to terminate somebody that quick. And so we have to go through with our process, and that’s the way it’s set up. And so that’s the difference. So some departments have those agreements and are able to do that. In Honolulu, we don’t. I just found out about it. So how do we look into something like that.

The Honolulu Police Commission meets twice a month. Chief Joe Logan and his deputies are regularly called upon to answer questions, including one recently about the police killing in Memphis. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

And just on another topic that you’ve highlighted, the importance of data. What is on your wish list for data that would be helpful to you? You’ve talked about hot-spot policing. What have you identified as some data needs that would help you in your mission as a police force?

So my wish list for data and technology is longer than Santa Claus’ Christmas list. But we have to get there and a lot of that, unfortunately, costs money, too. And so we have to work through all of that. How can we incrementally design our web pages to better project out what what the public wants, what the media would like, and then make sure that we’re putting that on a dashboard so that it’s easily understandable to all of you. It might be understandable to us, but that doesn’t mean we’re looking at it from your perspective, right? So we’ve got to make sure that you can understand it too, so we welcome input to that as we start developing.

But information on what’s going on within a specific beat, an area, a district, what type of cases we’re working on, number of arrests, what what people are arrested for, just the kind of the data that you’re really looking for when you write your type of reporting and that you look at. You’re not looking at what’s happening right here, right now. You’re looking at long-term kind of stories that keep the public informed, which is really I think a better avenue. And reading into a lot of background on what’s going on and what what makes a story a story and and what is entertaining to people and what what do you want the reader to understand. Just providing the facts of what happened is a story in and of itself. But it’s a different type of news. You’re much different than that.

Well, speaking of that, under your watch, how have relations with the media been? How do you think that’s going?

Logan: I think things are going well. I’ve committed to come on monthly shows to talk to them and their news reporters about events. And then we’re working towards other ways that we can better talk about news and the current event things that are happening. And so how do we get ahead of that? How do we keep them informed so they can inform the public?

And so one of the things we went through last week (at the chiefs’ conference) with crisis communications class was that silence has consequences. And so you don’t want to ever say nothing. You have to say something. And so what is that something we’re working on and how are we going to do that?

Do you have a concern that there’s misinformation getting out there, that the stories are being distorted?

Logan: Yes, there’s always a concern that information getting out is misinformation, whether that’s through social media. The relationship is still a developing relationship with the news media. Some are a little more conservative — not in the political aspect — but in what they report and how they report. And some are a little more aggressive about things.

But it’s about staying in contact. In the event that you think you’re not getting what you want out of the police department, call me, email me, text me, and we will work towards getting the information that would help the story — and we want to get the right information out. So what we don’t want is you to rely on somebody else to provide information that’s really not true and accurate.

You were talking earlier on about a new plan to get more information out to the public through the news. What’s up with that in terms of the roll out of info?

Logan: We’re looking at six, eight or 10 people for professional development. So if you’re interested in being a senior leader in the police department, what better way to learn how to talk in front of a camera than to get out in front of a camera and talk. And you might be scared just like I am every time I do it. But you learn, right? And you learn what not to do. So we’re looking at identifying these individuals that have a desire to. And then how do we work with our media to help train them up and get them ready so that they’re available when required to get somebody in front of the camera to explain to the media what’s going on, what’s happened, what we need the public to do. And so that’s what we’re working toward

The police shooting in Nuuanu, Lindani Myeni, who we just learned recently had CTE. This is coming from comments that I monitor on our site, and you hear this all the time: Why don’t officers just shoot for the arm or for the leg and so forth?

Logan: Well, real life is not television. It’s not movies. Officers are making split decisions under high stress. And to be able to function a weapons system and aim for an arm or a leg is impractical. And so we shoot center mass. We don’t shoot to kill. We shoot to stop. And so that’s what we train our officers to do. And in this instance, unfortunately, Mr. Myeni died. But the officer was taking action because of his actions against the officers that he was beating up at the time.

Silence has consequences. And so you don’t want to ever say nothing. You have to say something.

Chief Joe Logan

Waikiki: We’ve had all these reports lately, like someone barricading themselves in a room, and of course tourism is coming back and that’s only going to add to it. Is Waikiki a safe place to go, given all the reports that we’ve been hearing lately about?

Horikawa: It is. Some of those recent kind of more high-profile cases that are sensational, and they do catch a lot of attention. So they may kind of skew things and perceptions a little bit. But those are rare exceptions. And our District 6 Waikiki leadership they’ve done a really, really good job partnering with the prosecutor’s office with the Safe and Sound initiatives and some others that we’re putting putting a lot of efforts into really cleaning up some of that that nuisance kind of crime. We’ve had problems with some of the pavilions, for example, people loitering.

We’re trying to operate within the laws of what we can enforce but also working with some of the other businesses and the churches. I know it’s just on the media recently about how some frustrations with the geographic restrictions process. And we’re trying to work with the prosecutor’s office and the legal system in trying to kind of protecting that up a little bit.

So basically, when somebody gets arrested for a person crimes there, then we can apply for them to get a geographic restriction.

When I was an officer in downtown, we had a geographic restriction process which was very streamlined. It was granted by the judge. It was almost like a standing warrant where we could arrest (someone for an offense). But now it’s a little bit different process with Safe and Sound. So it goes through different steps within the legal process. That’s where I think a lot of the frustrations among the residents occur, where they know people go out, get arrested and get out. It’s a geographic restriction. But we can’t just go out and pick them up right away. There’s a process.

Logan: In the high profile incidents that Chief Horikawa mentioned, these were not random acts. These are acts committed by individuals who either targeted or had some type of relationship with. And so they weren’t just one-off things that happen. And so it kind of skews it. It looks like Waikiki is not safe when, in fact, you know, these random acts are very few and far between. Do they happen? Yes, but not like to the extent that we’ve seen, you know, shootings on a sidewalk, stabbings in a bus stop or a barricaded suspect.

So I am really curious, how do you like your job? It’s been eight and a half months. What do you like about it?

I love my job. I do. What I like about it is the team that I have at the leadership, where I have two gentlemen (Vanic and Horikawa) who are very knowledgeable about what they do, very intelligent about making decisions and how the department runs. I have my assistant, the other assistant chiefs, six of them all very knowledgeable about running their bureaus and all the elements that are in that. And so I think that’s what makes it … easy is probably not the right word, but it’s kind of the word that comes to mind. It’s what makes my life a little less stressful, right? Because I’m not having to do all this stuff myself.

And, you know, I’m meeting new people all the time. I haven’t met everyone, but it’s just getting out there and just talking to people. I’m in some places they’re not normally seeing chiefs, but that’s just me and who I am. I like to walk around. I don’t like sitting in my office. And so to do that is a little startling to some people. They’re getting used to it though.

I’ve been here for 50 years. I’ll be here for another 50 years, and it’s home for me. I got great support at home. My wife is working diligently around the house, doing all the things that she loves to do. She’s been retired now for a few years from her work life. And so it’s a great balance, having a supportive spouse that helps you do what you need to do and then great leaders that help you lead the organization. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Going back to that question about why people become police officers: Are you glad you got back into policing? Because you were out for a while.

I think for me there was a calling when I first saw that opening. I was working for the AG’s office. I had tried retirement for eight months — didn’t work for me. So I went back to work at the AG’s and just something inside me said, “I need to try. I need to apply.” I didn’t think I would qualify, but people told me I did. They said, “Please, apply.”

There was something drawing me back into law enforcement because I’d been gone for so long. And I think whether that’s, to me, that’s God telling me, “Hey, I want you to come to this. Now is the time and place, we need you here.” And so that’s the way I took that.

And then I went through the process. I had no expectation. People would say, “You’re going to be the next chief.” And I said, “Absolutely not. That’s not my decision. That’s well above my pay grade. Somebody that’s going to make that decision.”

And so I’m very happy I did. I’m glad I made that decision to join. I pulled Keith out of retirement to come back in to be a deputy. And I just wanted Rade to stay on from his role as interim, to stay in as deputy chief, because I knew they knew what they were doing. I had the right leadership team. And I think for me it made sense to me. I was very comfortable in all of this.

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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 Matthew Leonard. 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

Latest Comments (0)

Great interview, and leaves a positive impression of a thoughtful, concerned HPD leadership; thank you. It would be interesting to hear parallel interviews with 1) the Commission, and see what strategies they look into (eg. Chief Logan's new learning about quick removals; or steps towards getting a budget sufficient to close that 360 officer gap); and 2) the Prosecutor's Office, to hear how they look to integrate HPD's tactics in a larger picture. That seems to be one place where public confidence can erode (eg. geographic restrictions may be a good tool for the patrol force, but when a recidivist offender, say a burglar is kept out of Waikiki but is free to operate elsewhere, it leaves non-Waikiki residents with the unfortunate impression they live in lower priority neighborhoods).

Kamanulai · 7 months ago

Great interview. Good questions and believable answers. Surprisingly good.

enoughisenough · 7 months ago

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