HPD to investigate dozens of officers
By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Peter Boylan
An administrative investigation targeting as many as 50 Honolulu police officers is planned in the wake of a two-year federal corruption probe that resulted in indictments against five officers last week.
The Honolulu Police Department investigation will be based on evidence gathered by FBI agents who used wiretaps in their probe of illegal cockfights and gambling operations.
The HPD probe is not criminal in nature, and the evidence could not be used in a criminal case, according to the department. The evidence could be used, however to mete out administrative punishments ranging from verbal reprimands to firings.
Administrative investigations at HPD focus on whether an officer has violated department policies, procedures, or standards of conduct.
"Every officer that was associated with activities related to this federal case will be investigated administratively if their names have come up (and they were not indicted). We won't know (exactly) how many internal administrative investigations will be initiated until we get the information from the FBI," Chief Boisse Correa said through a spokesman yesterday.
Correa discussed the internal probe and federal indictments with the department's command staff Friday morning, according to Capt. Frank Fujii. The chief plans to discuss the indictments and administrative investigation in a videotape message to be distributed throughout the department, he said.
Fujii said the entire staff of the administrative section of HPD's Internal Affairs division will deal with the massive internal probe. The team will focus solely on this investigation, and officers outside Internal Affairs are being asked to fill in on the team's other administrative cases, Fujii said.
"We will leave no stone unturned," he said. "It's all about public trust and it's just about doing the right thing."
On Friday, Correa apologized to O'ahu residents after three officers were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly tipping off leaders of a North Shore cockfighting ring to HPD raids. A fourth officer was indicted for possessing an illegal firearm and a fifth officer for hiding evidence of cockfighting.
The criminal charges represent what is believed to be the most widespread allegations of misconduct by the largest number of Honolulu police officers in years. The federal probe began in 2003 over allegations that officers were helping set up, run and protect illegal cockfights.
"We may look at what caused a lot of this, what's the core, and go after different individuals and different processes administratively," Correa said at the news conference. "That should mushroom into more and more officers."
Four indicted officers are on paid administrative leave, according to the State of Hawai'i Organization of Police Officers, and a grievance has been filed on their behalf. The fifth retired before the indictments.
The police officers' union said yesterday that the internal investigation was expected.
"I think the department has a responsibility to investigate and we can concur with that providing these investigations are done in a fair and impartial manner and not simpy to justify a federal request," said Detective Alex Garcia, O'ahu chapter chairman for the State of Hawai'i Organization of Police Officers. "We need to assure the public the department is clean and that's the responsibility of the department. If the officer is named (in the federal investigation) but not involved he should be cleared, but there shouldn't be any cloud over officers because their name was heard in a (wiretapped) conversation."
Because of the federal indictments, Correa said, changes will be made to the department policies.
A "quality assurance team" within Internal Affairs will be established to seek out problem areas and employees, particularly those involved with covert police work. Policies regarding rotations, transfers and promotions will be revised.
Correa became chief in August 2004, roughly five months after the federal probe began.
Reach Peter Boylan at email@example.com.