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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 6, 2001

It's time for a probe of HPD's disputes

Is it just us, or do you, too, sense there's more than just a food fight taking place behind the locked doors at the Honolulu Police Department?

We have an assistant chief and a major indicted on felony theft charges, accused of diverting money intended for prisoners' meals to buy upscale dining for police officers — including the present and past police chiefs, neither of whom thought to inquire where the money came from for the steaks and rack of lamb.

The whistle was blown on those two high-ranking officers by another major who himself is accused by a lieutenant of being a crybaby, a hypocrite and of breaking police rules in soliciting free or highly discounted food and other items for a Christmas party for District 8 (Wai'anae and 'Ewa) officers.

We have a third major, the one who now runs District 8, saying such solicitations never happen in that district.

We have the chairman of the police union's O'ahu chapter calling for the chief of police to resign over this case, while the rest of the union's leadership rallies to the chief's support.

What's remarkable about all these accusations is, first, that they involve high-ranking officers and, second, that HPD never airs its dirty linen in public.

Thus the fact that ranking officers are upset enough to go public with their concerns suggests terrific behind-the-scenes pressures; that perhaps we've only seen the tip of an iceberg.

The public can't be satisfied with a department riven with finger-pointing and cross-accusations. In-house investigations are fine — up to a point. But it has become clear that it's time for an independent investigation to measure the true dimensions of this developing controversy.