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Kealoha to retire as HPD chief in wake of federal probe


    Police Commission Chairman Max Sword announced today that Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha will retire.


    Honolulu Police Department Chief Louis Kealoha answered questions at a legislative hearing. Kealoha is expected to be present and answer questions today when the city Police Commission meets to discuss whether to fire or suspend him.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha has agreed to retire in the wake of a federal corruption investigation, ending a 33-year career on the police force.

The decision was announced early this afternoon by Police Commission Chairman Max Sword at the Honolulu Police Department’s Beretania Street headquarters after a closed-door meeting on the chief’s fate. Sword said the seven-member commission, which has the authority to hire and fire the chief, came to “an agreement in principle” with Kealoha on his retirement.

A police spokeswoman said Kealoha was not at today’s closed-door meeting as was expected.

“We are working the details out and we’ll have the final approval by the commission on the meeting on … Jan. 18,” Sword said after the hour-long meeting.

Kealoha was a captain in 2009 when he was picked by the commission to replace Boisse Correa as chief of the 2,000-officer force. After contentious relations between Correa and the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, SHOPO leaders applauded Kealoha’s selection.

Sword spoke with reporters outside the building with Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, the city’s top civil attorney, standing next to him. She did not address the media.

Sword thanked the chief for his more than 30 years with HPD, adding that the commission wished “him well in his retirement.”

Kealoha has been the subject of a lengthy federal grand jury investigation into alleged wrongdoing and corruption. On Dec. 20, Kealoha placed himself on “restriction of police authority” status shortly after the FBI sent him a letter informing him that he was the target of a criminal investigation.

The commission discussed Kealoha’s fate in executive session for more than two hours Wednesday before deciding to recess. Sword told reporters afterward that he and his colleagues wanted time to gather additional information but he declined to provide specifics.

On Wednesday, the commission affirmed his “on leave” status and made it indefinite. Deputy Chief Cary Okimoto has been acting chief since then. Okimoto has 32 years with HPD and served as its deputy chief for administrative operations since 2015.

After Sword’s announcement today, HPD issued a written statement, saying, “Under the leadership of Acting Chief Cary Okimoto, HPD will work to ensure seamless continuity of the essential functions that make Honolulu one of the safest major cities in the country. The safety and security of our community has always been, and will continue to be, HPD’s top priority.”

Attorney Myles Breiner, who has represented Kealoha on the criminal allegations against him, referred questions to Kevin Sumida, who is providing the chief with legal counsel on civil matters including the settlement that is leading to his retirement.

“I’m disappointed that the chief retired but I understand why,” Breiner said by telephone after Sword’s announcement. “I support his decision; it still preserves the integrity of the Police Department. There’s been no admission or acknowledgement of any wrongdoing whatsoever because there’s been no wrongdoing.”

Sumida could not immediately be reached for comment.

Four other HPD officers also were put on “restriction of police authority,” or ROPA, status as a result of receiving similar letters. Their names have not been disclosed by the department.

A federal grand jury has been looking into corruption and other wrongdoing at HPD stemming from the theft of the mailbox at Kealoha’s Kahala home. The chief and his wife, Katherine Kealoha, a city prosecutor, are widely believed to be at the center of the investigation.

In June, the Kealohas filed a lawsuit against the city Ethics Commission claiming that former Executive Director Chuck Totto and commission staff unfairly investigated them.

It’s unclear whether the terms of the retirement settlement will affect those matters.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who was ill and out of the office today, issued a statement thanking Kealoha for his years of service and the commission “for taking decisive action on this matter.”

“I believe the Commission made the right decision to accept Chief Kealoha’s retirement, and he made the correct decision for the sake of the police department and the thousands of officers who serve with integrity, respect and fairness,” the mayor said, adding, “Today’s announcement allows the Honolulu Police Department to move forward.”

SHOPO president Tenari Ma‘afala, a 32-year police veteran who has known Kealoha since before their time at HPD, said he respects the chief’s decision.

“If you ask me, and this is not indicative of his decision, if I was in his shoes, and I knew for certain I didn’t do anything wrong, I would leave on my terms,” Ma‘afala said, stressing that he did not know if Kealoha left voluntarily or not.

“For selfish reasons, I hate to see him leave,” he said, adding that he hopes Kealoha’s actions reflect what’s best for his family.

During the public portion of Wednesday’s commission meeting, several people urged the commission members to reconsider their decision to hold the Kealoha discussion behind closed doors. But commission members said they wanted to go into executive session with its attorneys to discuss the personnel matter.

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        • That’s all he’ll have to his name after he gets done paying Myles Breiner. Bruddah is gonna be in court for a LONG time.

        • After seeing convicted city/state government employees being found guilty in court for job related failures, many still kept their pension and benefits.

          Smarter cities and states have since worked laws to cancel pension/benefits for convicted felons. And yes, wives, if innocent, kept their benefits.

          Hawaii needs to join the smarter states.

        • Yes, for now. He still under investigation by the feds and they could hand down an indictment in the future.

    • He’ll probably get a nice fat pension for the rest of his life and we’ll be paying for it. When are they going to get rid of the wife? They have both brought shame to all of us who live here and respect the law.

        • The mail-box scheme is linked to her where her Uncle was falsely accused of stealing it to retrieve contents pertinent to the sale of real estate belonging to her Grandmother?

        • IRT keaukaha – Lol … that the dumbest comment yet, and of course it’s not true. The city and state taxpayers contribute hundreds of millions of dollars every year to the public employee retirement system. Ige just recently boasted that he paid an extra 300 million from the state’s 2016 surplus into the retirement system.

      • Hey give the man some credit. He did serve in the police department for 33 years. I sure it wasn’t all bad. Chief Kealoha, Mahalo for serving in the Honolulu Police Department.

    • Retired or be fired. He chose the easier course. Frankly, the Commission bent over backward to protect and honor him. On the mainland he would have fired long ago.

  • If he had any brains and integrity he would step down. He has not performed at all well and his integrity is in question. HPD deserves better and so do the public. Stop the demoralization of HPD and jettison this man before any more damage is done.

  • Kealoha should have been terminated a long time ago. His remaining on the force has been a severe detriment to the moral of others, and HPD doesn’t need any more help with declining moral. HPD is in desperate need of a good leader.

  • Kealoha has a hard time letting go of the power & title. Same for his wife. Moral was already declining when officers were negatively making the news almost every week. The Commission’s decision will, without a doubt, affect the future of public trust for the department & its officers.

  • Wasn’t Kealoha’s attorney quoted on tv last night as saying he was demanding transparency and a meeting pursuant to Sunshine Law? That would mean no closed doors meetings.

    • Not for the actual mailbox but the destruction and falsified evidence leading to the theft of the mailbox. Very serious ethics violation for a PD chief to command the staff under him to perform his dirty work like in some Banana Republic. His trust is non-existent to run a PD department after such a silly family matter that went out of hand.

    • It is alleged that the whole mailbox theft was a fabricated crime concocted by HPD officers and Katherine. One former HPD officer has already pleaded guilty to the crime in Federal court and will probably implicate others, including Katherine so he can stay out of federal prison or get a greatly reduced sentence. Not a lawyer but those are felony crimes punishable by serious jail time in federal prison. There is also the matter of the alleged perjury of Katherine in a court case to a judge to get an employee of hers off from a speeding ticket. Perjury by an attorney in the City prosecutors office is definitely a felony and conviction for that alone can result up to 5 years in prison. Both the chief and his city prosecuting wife could be convicted of multiple felonies in Federal court, resulting in a possible serious jail time in federal prison. Fired Chuck Totto from the now emasculated City Ethics Commission appears to have correctly done his job but seems the chief and his wife had serious backers in the City mayor, the SHOPO boss, the former boss of the City Police commission who is also a Carpenter union boss and Kaneshiro, the chief City prosecutor. Wow, the Kealoha’s had lots of people covering their backs but all the Kings men could not protect them from the US Federal Gov’t. Kind of wonder how having an independent Hawaiian nation with NO oversight or authority by the Federal Government will turn out. Rhetorical question, OHA gives a glimpse on how that would turn out.

  • Kealoha was disliked from the very being of his appointment as chief. Promotions in HPD have always been based on who you know, not what you know. Thus there’s many supervisors who don’t have the ability to be in those positions. There’s no professional development course or classes given to the rank and file to prepare themselves for a supervisory position. A 3 year beatman who has a simple AA degree in “what-ever”, can take the Sgt promotion test. Doe’s 3 years in the job qualify him/her for promotion?

  • Now to get rid of his wife and her boss. Alleged abuse of power already sours the public view of a civil servant. Objectivity is already compromised.

  • Kealoha was a very bad choice to be the head of HPD. Good riddance. The next chief needs to be someone with integrity and honor. Can they find someone within the
    ranks. Hard to say. If not, we will continue to have more of the same. In addition the major reform needs to be with the Police Commission and the current members all except for
    the two most recent appointees need to be gone as they are incompetent and highly unqualified to be on the commission. For a long time now, the tail has been wagging the dog
    and the commission has been a joke unable to do anything about the bad cops on the force and they need to be weeded out and the sooner the better.

    • With any luck an outsider will replace him and clean house. Shopo has already chimed in with their desire to have a current HPD officer get the job. The unions own Caldwell so they’ll likely get their way. They were the only reason Kealoha lasted as long as he did.

        • Agree. I don’t understand why people voted for and reelected Kaneshiro last fall. I voted for the other guy even though I didn’t know anything about him as I didn’t agree with Kaneshiro’s support of Ms. Kealoha.

        • If Carlisle had run against Kaneshiro instead of for mayor, he would have been a slam dunk. Plus, he could have run on a “unity” ticket with Charles Djou and shared campaign resources. Power corrupts absolutely.

          Peter let it get to his head.

        • Most people think Charles Djou is way out in right field and is controlled by his church. He has lost so many elections now that he would be foolish to try and run again. But, the Republicans don’t have many other options so they may just choose him as a last resort.

        • Mr Mililani: Final vote count of 138,142 votes for Caldwell and 125,945 for Djou which was pretty darn close. You are right Djou lost but not by much. Why, why, why did Djou say that he wanted the Oahu Train project to continue on all the way to Ala Mo Center? Actually best guess is he got serious union money for his campaign to support rail. Union, including groups like PRP probably hedged their bets and poured money to BOTH Kirk and Charles campaign so it did not matter who won, either way the Oahu rail project would continue on. HOWEVER now that Trump is President of the US and will put in whole in FTA leadership, odds are that by April and the Oahu rail project is still out of Federal contract compliance, they will rightfully rescind the funding and then Kirk will have have to raise property taxes or get State legislatures to cough up another $1.2 BILLION just to cover the Federal fund loss. If he cannot then the Oahu rail project will END, just like the Hawaii Health Connector that lost millions in federal funds

  • He didn’t get away with anything if the feds decide to indict. SHOPO and all his banana republic syndicate connections in the world won’t save him from the DOJ and U.S. Attorney’s team.

    • Chief is not s SHOPO member. He is HGEA if anything. Captains and above are HGEA. That’s the line in the sand. Real police operators are lieutenants and below. Teneri is a politian, as he should be representing SHOPO.

      • Wonder what Ma’afala does in the department besides being SHOPO President & making commercials. Heard all the SHOPO reps get paid extra for their positions.

  • Kealoha fell on the (Max) Sword (an old saying, Fig. to accept defeat; to go to extremes to indicate one’s defeat. (From the ancient practice of a military commander committing suicide this way rather than being captured.)

  • As long as the investigation continues and the legal process goes on. Hope he and his wife don’t get away with anything, they are not above the law. Having the truth come out with a complete full disclosure is all the people of this State deserve. Innocent or guilty, Kealoha and his wife have to go through the process. This will be extremely interesting to see how everything plays out.

  • Kaneshiro is another huge embarrassment to this city. How he got voted back in is beyond my comprehension. Inarticulate, arrogant, and condescending. He needs to go. Kealoha’s release is just the tip of the iceberg in a highly corrupt County government. This ‘good old boy’ one party cesspool needs to be sucked dry asap. Long time in coming but at least it is a start. Mayor, are you listening?

  • Well, about time. Now i can become the new head of HPD. I’ll make sure all the soldiers under me will be under the radar with the big Eyes in the sky. The other Big Buta should be under the ground for Kalua meal. Got it ………………..

  • I hope we can reach into his pension to pay for all the costs this fracas cost taxpayers. Kaneshiro, do the right thing and say goodbye to his wife.

  • It’s just the begining. Kealoha followed the advice of Navy Seals after failing to send aid to sex trafficked victims who called 911. Heads are going to roll.

    • Given the corruption and back-stabbing in that family, it wouldn’t surprise me if either one of them kindly helped the other with voluntary and 100% legally assisted suicide, Vince Foster style! 😉

  • Chief Kealoha is doing what’s best for his family. I’m hoping he’s not planning to protect his wife and the fall for her.
    Anyway, Thank you Chief Kealoha for your service. Best wishes on your retirement.

  • The Feds BETTER be right. Does the Police Commission have information we don’t? I still haven’t seen evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, I’ve only seen innuendo. No direct evidence against the (soon to be former, I guess) Chief at all. We’ll see.

    • You have got to be kidding. The feds have ALREADY proven they are right. One former HPD officer has already plead guilty in federal court for the felony conviction of lying, manipulating and fabricating evidence and testimony in the bogus theft of the Kealoha’s mailbox and falsely framing Katherine Kealoha’s relative of the bogus crime. ONLY the Kealoha’s stand to benefit of a false conviction of Katherine’s relative for a bogus mailbox theft. Where there is smoke there is fire. First one to flip gets the deal and he will most likely implicate both Kealoha as Katherine should have had NO contact in directing HPD officers to do anything, however she is such a control freak, she probably gave direct to commit these felony crimes. And the fact she is arrogant enough to allegedly commit perjury to a judge in a court trail and think she could actually get away with it even though every word in court she spoke to the judge is recorded and her statments can easily be verified as a lie. The worst thing is even under the mounting evidence against Katherine, City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro continues to defend and make excuses for his second in charge. After the Kealohas, the feds need to investigate the Honolulu City prosecutors office AND the FTA under the Trump adiministration needs to investigate HART and the mayors office for the Oahu train to nowhere project. Forget man made global climate change, the swamp on Oahu needs to be drained big time.

  • It will be interesting to see if any of the four other officers will flip and testify against the chief in exchange for a lesser sentence…..

  • Smart decision. He gets benefits for life, never had to admit any wrongdoing, retires as the top cop in the state, and basically slammed the door on the persons whining and crying for him to leave. Now he left, and he’s in good shape. Soooo…….what are the whiners going to whine about now?

  • droid, taxpayers are paying for Myles Breiner. such a deal. good riddance to stink opala, louie wahanui kealoha. worst police chief in hpd history. most of the cops are crooks,and corrupt, such was his style, thats why he was called a cops cop.the police commission needs to be revamped too. no backbone, they were in the chiefs pocket.

    • In a nutshell, time to move on and find a new chief from the mainland to bring fresh air into the department. Time to reassess the police commission’s behavior through the mess. It will glaringly indicate its ineptness and needs to be dissolved in entirety to prevent future debacles as witnessed thus far! A clean sweep is need, same o, same o must occur!

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