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After Closed-Door Session, Police Commission Still Undecided on HPD Police Chief

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

The future of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha could be determined this Friday. That’s when the Honolulu Police Commission will reconvene to make a decision on the Chief’s employment status. It was the first time the Commission had met since Kealoha went on paid leave last month after receiving a target letter from the FBI. 

For more than two hours, the Honolulu Police Commission met behind closed doors. They spent most of the meeting in executive session, discussing the status of Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who’s at the center of a federal investigation.

Molly Solomon
Credit Molly Solomon

Commission chair Max Sword emerged from the long meeting with plans to reconvene on Friday.

“We just needed more information that we need,” said Sword, who spoke with media outside the Honolulu Police Department’s Alapai Headquarters. “You’re talking about dealing with somebody’s livelihood here, their career. So we want to make sure whatever decision we make is the correct decision to move forward.”

Sword said before adjourning the meeting, the commission did ratify the letter issued to Kealoha putting the Police Chief on paid leave indefinitely. Sword would not say what additional information was needed and who the commission was seeking it from.

During the public portion of the meeting, some testified to make the process more transparent. They included state Sen. Will Espero.

“When I look at today’s agenda, until executive session which is closed to the public, there’s not even any mention of what is the status of our chief,” Espero said. “That is a major concern to the general public.”

Casey Harlow
Credit Casey Harlow

And while commission Chair Max Sword declined to comment on what actions are on the table, commissioner Loretta Sheehan emphasized earlier that the panel had the power to fire or suspend the Police Chief.

“HPD policies make it clear the paths that we are going to have to decide to go down,” said Sheehan. “We could suspend him with pay, we could suspend him without pay, or we could remove him.”

The commissioners will go back into executive session Friday morning and plan to reach a decision later that day.

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon joined HPR in May 2012 as an intern for the morning talk show The Conversation. She has since worn a variety of hats around the station, doing everything from board operator to producer.
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