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Honolulu Police Chief Gets Generally High Marks In Wake of Commissioners' Resignations

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Updated: 6/4/2020, 3:45 p.m.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard’s job performance exceeded expectations last year, according to her annual evaluation by the police commission.

Ballard received exceptional reviews in leadership, managerial matters, community relations and communications in the evaluation released yesterday. She received average grades in areas like budget and fiscal management and training and development.

Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado says Ballard is a well-respected leader inside and outside the department.

That view was shared by two reform-minded commission members who recently resigned, retired Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Steven Levinson and former federal prosecutor Loretta Sheehan. Sheehan earlier this week said Ballard has “done a lot in her short tenure.”

According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Sheehan said the commission is very focused on supporting Ballard but is not balanced in its watchdog role.

Ballard's positive evaluation comes in sharp contrast to the critical reviews of police departments on the Mainland where strained relations with communities of color have led to violent protests. 

Ballard took over as head of the department two years ago amid a corruption scandal, and says there is still room for improvement at HPD.

"Yeah, I think we’ve come a long ways. We’re a large organization. We can’t turn easily. The boat needs to be turned slowly. Doing things different sometimes hurts. But if we always stay in what’s accepted, then we’ll never know if we can grow," she said.

Ballard, the city’s first female police chief, was promoted following the resignation of her predecessor Louis Kealoha.

The former police chief was convicted of conspiracy in federal court along with his wife, former city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, and two of his officers.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard's 2019 Evaluation by hawaiipublicradio on Scribd

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at
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