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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 8, 2009

HPD test-fixing alleged

BY Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

A 22-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department is alleging that top officials at the HPD's training academy altered test scores for recruits to help fill HPD vacancies.

In a Circuit Court lawsuit filed yesterday against the City and County of Honolulu, Sgt. Deeann Koanui said she faced retaliation and harassment after she complained last year about falsified written test scores of five recruits and the altering of two recruits' physical fitness tests.

In the lawsuit, Koanui alleged that her supervisor, Maj. Susan Ballard, later "ordered that the recruit test results be shredded, thereby destroying evidence that would have corroborated that the test scores had been changed under her command."

"These officers have a terribly difficult job and deserve to be trained properly and need to be fit for duty," Koanui's lawyer, Carl Varady, said yesterday.

"If they aren't given these things, they are at risk and the people they work with are at risk and so are the people they are supposed to be serving," Varady said.

Police Department spokeswoman Caroline Sluyter and city spokesman Bill Brennan would not comment yesterday, each saying they had not seen the lawsuit. Ballard could not be reached for comment.

Koanui's lawsuit alleges that her supervisor altered test results for recruits in response to staffing shortages.

The suit cited a 2007 City Auditor's report that found that 18 percent of the departments' 955 authorized positions were not available for patrol.

Koanui's lawsuit seeks damages for lost income and physical and emotional distress that will be proven at trial.

Varady said Koanui has raised her concerns with city officials and the Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission, which he said is looking into the matter.

HPD's Internal Affairs Division also conducted an inquiry but made no findings, he said. The suit alleged that then-Police Chief Boisse Correa and two deputies "intervened" in the Internal Affairs investigation.

Koanui has been a police officer since 1987 and worked at HPD's training academy in Waipahu for five years before being transferred to the police department's records division Downtown in May.

Her lawsuit states that she has received several commendations and awards during her career and ran the academy's physical fitness program. Her husband is decorated undercover police officer Earl Koanui.