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HPD probe expands to 8

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An investigation into wrongdoing in the Honolulu Police Department’s Traffic Division apparently has been expanded to focus on up to eight officers.

Two sergeants were implicated in the case originally, but the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers is now providing legal representation for five or six more officers in the division, SHOPO President Tenari Ma’afala confirmed last night.

HPD officials could not be reached for comment.

The case involves allegations that officers—in an effort to accrue overtime—reported hours working DUI checkpoints when they did not, Ma’afala said. The officers deny the allegations and say they were at the scenes, he said.

The officers have been placed under a Restriction of Police Authority order, Ma’afala said, which means they have been stripped of their badges, guns and police authority but are working and getting paid. Ma’afala said the union does not agree the officers should have been stripped of their police powers.

"I’m sad this is happening, as a police officer and a union official," Ma’afala said, noting that the actions alleged are not condoned by SHOPO.

He emphasized that the officers have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

The department has been close-mouthed about the case other than to confirm late last week that two veteran sergeants were under investigation and reassigned from the Traffic Division. The two have 19 years and 16 1/2 years of service with the department, an HPD spokesman said.

The Prosecutor’s Office confirmed last week that as a result of the investigation, about a dozen DUI cases have had to be dismissed because officers who had been transferred were not available to go to court.

The cases were dismissed without prejudice, allowing prosecutors to refile at a later time.

The Traffic Division is tasked with investigation into traffic fatalities and major accidents, traffic control and enforcement and safety, according to the division’s website.

 

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