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Hawaii lawmakers seek enhanced police oversight


    Honolulu police officer Vincent Morre, 37, was seen in this screenshot striking a patron at an illegal gambling house. Morre plead guilty in federal court to charges related to the incident and resigned from the force. Other officers were accused of covering up the incident.

Hawaii lawmakers are pushing for more police oversight in the wake of incidents that they say chipped away at the public’s trust.

Hawaii is the only state without a statewide board to ensure that law enforcement officers meet certain standards for hiring and training. Two Senate Committees passed a bill Thursday that would create that type of board.

The Honolulu Police Department opposed the bill, saying the department already meets the highest possible standards.

Democratic Sen. Rosalyn Baker says Hawaii’s law enforcement departments need more transparency, and having officers watch over officers doesn’t fit the bill.

A similar proposal failed in the Legislature last year, but this year the bill has wide support among senators.

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  • State law makers are way behind the curve on this. They could not get their act together for years on this subject. The four counties are ahead based years of political fighting over who gets what. state law enforcement is fragmented, their training is fragment. Example, two years ago they took harbor police officers guns away, because nobody knew when they last qualified. DLNR just messed up a major case in Kailua Bay so the State Attorney Generals punts the case to the City Prosecutors Office. Before they legislate standards and apply to county PDs they have to figure out who the State Cops are. Cost is also factor, State Sheriff’s asked HPD long ago if they could train their deputies. Answer, no, liability issues. County trains State Deputy, deputy gets in trouble, drags county into suit. I know they are doing this on the outside Islands because there is no training for state cops once they graduate . Ferguson is s good example, of Ferguson losses it’s police department, St. Loius COUNTY will not go in there because of the concent decree and liability. Training standards being demanded by feds would extend to St.Louis County police…. extremely costly. As tax payer in St.Louis County I would be pissed that I have to pay for Ferguson issues.

  • All counties meet national standards through International Assoc. Of Chiefs of Police, Calea Commission on Law Enforcement Accredition- recognized by the U.S Department of Justice, Police Chiefs are graduates of the FBI’s National Academy Quantico. This is why police officers from the 4 counties can lateral to other PDs within state or lateral to mainland PDs that have the same standards. HPD also provides panelists for mainland PDs on promotion if they share same standards. Unions are also involved, SHOPO is in a National Organization of major police Unions. So standardization is pushed forward from Federal through above Associations and ground level through Unions. On the last SHOPO contract, when the 4 county Mayors and governor hit an impasse, Arbitrator just looked the standards other PDs the same size of all 4 counties combined and awarded.

  • “The Honolulu Police Department opposed the bill, saying the department already meets the highest possible standards.” Which highest standards is that? Like the one pictured above, Vincent Morre beating up people sitting down, and the 2 other officers covering up the incident? Recent officer arrested for DUI, officer beating his girlfriend in a bar, officer charged with his girlfriend selling/possessing drugs in their house? Etc., Etc., Etc.,…

        • He plead guilty to the charges and is now doing jail time. I wonder if he would have done so had there not been a video? And now Shopo opposes the use of body cameras. Makes you wonder.

    • Hey, they pay CALEA good tax payer funds to keep those “highest possible standards”. Remember, the New Orleans PD is also CALEA certified and everyone knows nothing illegal goes on in that department.

      • Right, New Orleans PD is the lowest paid Metropolitan PD in the country. CALEA was an attempted fix. Same recommendation for Ferguson but one of the seven points in the agreement with ferguson and DOJ is increase the salary for recruiting better officers. This requirement will probably bankrupt the city. Higher standards in Federal eyes include higher salaries which are major concerns for City Adiminstrators. Increase property taxes to police?
        Last SHOPO contract involved an arbitration, which was binding. The increase hit Hawaii County and Kauai County hard sending the Mayors searching for a way to pay. Maui and Honolulu had funding. Poor communities cannot afford top dollar policing if there is no funding. State Sheriffs are the lowest paid police in Hawaii. Their entry screening way below national recommendation, no polygraph, no background check by a police detective, no psychology review, all very expensive. It isn’t the same with DLNR, which is why I think Ferguson was hired by DLNR. A civilian did the check. PD s are less likely to disclose why he was terminated to a civilian… privacy issues. A civilian did my son’s check when he applied for Sheriffs.

        • Really. So people with no psych review, polygraph or background checks are allowed to carry firearms and have police powers? maybe Espero should be looking at the Sheriff’s Dept. before the county cops. Really amazing.

        • Kekela, yes, small town police department same way. Sheriff Department does not do. HPD has own psychology staff and polygraph unit. Outside counties use private contractors….one of them as retired FBI guy… and contract psychologist….same one that does pilots for a local firm.

        • FBI guy very expensive, law firms also hire him to do pre screening of potential clients, if firm takes case, part of your bill. He also got Fed contract… required now it you want Top-secret clearence, the Snowden effect.

  • one fact in favor of the honolulu police department is that mainland recruiters come to honolulu and leave with honolulu police officers who are allowed lateral transfers with minimum training to local laws and county rules and regulations.

  • Maybe they should focus on what’s on their plates already….like the porous corrections department that has a problem with upstanding prisoners not returning from unsupervised outings.

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