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In televised forum, finalists in HPD chief search address vacancies, corruption and policies

Finalists in the search for the next chief of the Honolulu Police Department sit in on a forum hosted by PBS Hawaiʻi on May 19, 2022.
PBS Hawaiʻi
Finalists in the search for the next chief of the Honolulu Police Department sit in on a forum hosted by PBS Hawaiʻi on May 19, 2022.

The Honolulu Police Department Commission is poised to make a decision on the department’s next chief.

Last Thursday, the four finalists, Scott Ebner, Mike Lambert, Arthur “Joe” Logan and Ben Moszkowicz addressed vacancies, corruption and policies during a PBS Hawaiʻi Insights forum, where community members had the opportunity to submit questions live.

Moszkowicz and Lambert are both currently HPD majors within the force.

Moszkowicz has worked in every bureau within HPD over 21 years, and currently heads the Traffic Division. He's currently commuting back and forth from Virginia as he's enrolled in an executive leadership training program with the FBI National Academy.

He said there needs to be more accountability with the use of department resources. With about 300 vacant positions, the staff shortage will continue to be an issue to whoever takes on the chief position.

“We can't continue to operate patrol elements at 60%, 70%, 80% staffing on the basis of overtime,” he said. “It's not fiscally responsible. It's not responsible from any leadership standpoint.”

Moszkowicz pointed to officers taking on special assignments or being out in the alternative call center that take them away from patrolling.

Lambert heads the department’s Training Division with 19 years in the force. He spoke critically of the department and certain policies. He said that within his first 90 days he’d implement a disciplinary matrix, similar to one used within the New York Police Department, to increase transparency and consistency.

“When we have change in command, we have changed in chief, what happens is there's an inconsistent way to rule what an allegation should get,” he said. “What people don't know is the reason why we lose arbitration so much is that the (State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers) union is able to point back into an earlier period in time where the punishment was less for something similar. The disciplinary matrix — once I start — it will be consistent, and we will start to win arbitration.”

Logan previously served two decades with HPD and is a retired Army major general who was head of the Hawaiʻi National Guard. He is currently a criminal investigator with the state Attorney General’s Office.

To address vacancies, he offered to look at the department’s recruitment and hiring practices to eliminate barriers that may block potential hires.

“Maybe we need to look at that and say, 'What questions are we asking the polygraph?'” he said “Not to reduce the standards, but to maybe take a look at the standards across the board to see how we can stretch things… we can get more people into the department. And then once they get in, then we assess whether they belong here or not.”

Ebner is a retired New Jersey state police lieutenant colonel. As the only off-island candidate, he promised to meet with every officer and implement policies he’s used elsewhere, like 12-hour shifts and evaluations.

“I know firsthand how building policies, developing policy, early warning systems for use of force for just complaints,” he said. “That's something that needs to happen here.”

All candidates spoke on enhancing public perception of corruption within the department.

When touring HPD, Ebner was shocked to see a picture of former chief Louis Kealoha among those hanging with past chiefs.

“The day I take over he would be taken down,” Ebner said. “He lost that right to be considered a police chief of the Honolulu Police Department. That’s how I feel about transparency.”

PSI Services LLC was contracted for $145,777 to assess the candidates, and the finalists' billing was announced in mid-May.

The Police Commission meets today for public testimony on the four finalists.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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