HPD disciplined 26 officers in '09
By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer
Twenty-six officers of the Honolulu Police Department were disciplined last year for a variety of violations, including excessive use of force and falsifying police records.
One of the officers was discharged from the department for "malicious use of physical force." Another served a 20-day suspension, also for using more physical force than necessary.
These statistics are from an annual report submitted to the state Legislature by the department. Each county police department is required to issue a report on disciplinary actions at the start of each legislative session.
The number disciplined last year was a sharp increase from the 14 officers punished in 2008. But the 14 were the lowest reported by HPD this decade, with a high of 56 disciplined in 2001.
Police Chief Louis Kealoha said the department takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and investigates each complaint. Kealoha was sworn in as chief last November.
"With 2,000 officers in the department, there will always be a small number who make poor choices," Kealoha said. "Their actions are not reflective of the hard work and achievements of the overwhelming majority."
Details of the cases and the names of the officers are not released by the departments. The identities are kept confidential under state law and the counties' contract with the police union.
Other disciplinary action taken by HPD last year included:
• A 10-day suspension for an officer who falsified a traffic citation and was untruthful during the administrative investigation.
• A 10-day suspension for taking leave without having accumulated enough time to cover the request. This was the third violation for the officer in a 12-month period.
• A five-day suspension for making an inappropriate comment about a female co-worker.
• A three-day suspension for sending an inappropriate drawing via intradepartmental mail to another employee.
On the Big Island, police reported 16 incidents in 2009 that resulted in one termination for failing a drug test.
Kaua'i police reported six officers disciplined in seven incidents last year. One officer was fired for failing to dispatch proper units to a medical emergency and for transmitting inappropriate language over the police radio.
Information submitted to the Legislature by Maui police did not include discipline statistics.