Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard is defending her leadership of the department after an anonymous HPD commander accused her of “gross mismanagement and malfeasance” in a letter to the police commission.

The Dec. 4 letter states that the chief took away the discretion of officers who were in charge of enforcing the mayor’s COVID-19 rules.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard released a statement via YouTube in response to an anonymous letter sent to the Honolulu Police Commission. HPD YouTube

Instead of allowing officers to issue warnings and only cite people who had been warned before, the chief encouraged ticketing, according to the letter. The result was approximately 60,000 criminal citations, most of which have been declined or dismissed by prosecutors.

HPD received over $32 million in CARES Act funding and its efforts resulted in only 962 convictions, according to the letter.  Officers are now under investigation for taking on more lucrative overtime shifts than they were allowed.

“The current overtime abuse by officers is the direct result of poor management and improper planning by the Chief of Police,” the letter states.

The letter was sent to Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado, and copies were sent to City Council Public Safety Chair Tommy Waters and Civil Beat. Ballard posted a copy on HPD’s website.

In a three-minute response video posted to YouTube, the chief said “there was no misuse or mismanagement of COVID funds.” Officers exceeded departmental limits on the amount of overtime officers can work, she said.

Ballard has said before, and again in this video, the officers did work the shifts for which they logged overtime.

However, she said in the video that there are four officers who were accused of logging time for a shift they did not complete. Those officers are now under investigation, along with their team members, she said.

“Let me assure you that the officers who are involved, they’ve had their police powers removed and (have been) reassigned from their district,” she said. “I do take full responsibility for the officers, supervisors and command staff for not doing their jobs.”

Ballard’s statement was prerecorded and did not allow for questions from the media. Comments on the video are turned off.

The pandemic-related overtime was supposed to be paid for by federal CARES money, but after the news of excessive overtime broke, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that the city would cover it.

Note: Civil Beat reporter Christina Jedra would like to speak with the HPD commander who wrote the letter to the Police Commission, as well as any other current or former officers. Your communication will be kept confidential. You can call or text her at 808-234-9022 or email her at cjedra@civilbeat.org. 

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