Every Friday when I tune in for Blue Bloods on CBS, I wonder why we can’t have a Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) as Honolulu police commissioner rather than the mamby-pamby,  go-along-and-get-along people we’ve had sitting on our multi-member, volunteer police commission.

Having a citizens committee makes a lot of people happy, but if those members just pick the same old lame police chiefs, refuse  to confront the police union on critical matters of public accountability, then what’s the sense? We get members such as Max Sword and Steve Levinson. Nice, good people. I know them both. But when push came to shove, they let the shove push them in the direction of being steam rolled and paying a crooked police chief to leave!

Maybe we need one, strong, highly-qualified, dignified fighter as Police Commissioner, picked by the mayor and the City Council, paid, and given Frank Reagan-like powers to move around and terminate HPD district leaders. He would way outrank the chief of police — the current one having turned out to be pretty spineless. Besides, she was the principle in that police-retesting (a cheat system) scandal, so why was she made chief?

Honolulu is johnny-come-lately in requiring police officer records of service and disciplinary records to be made public on request. Oh, no, somebody might dislike their family members if we did that! So the union got away with calling officer Darren Cachola “a good cop” who deserved retention when in fact he is a very bad cop and should not currently be on the force. It’s an insult to good police behavior. It’s a stain on HPD. Why should the public obey a cop who’s record is being a drunk and abusive?

Setting up a strong police commissioner would not be easy. He/she needs to be impeachable by the Council if he/she misfires as a leader. Carefully vetted with the assistance of the FBI. Put out there for public comment. Looked over by the Hawaii Bar Association. Yes, by SHOPO, too, but that would not be a deciding factor. Just one commentor.

The City Council can do this. First we need to sideline chief Susan Ballard. Then pick a strong, no-cheat-background chief, maybe even from the mainland for a fresh start with no SHOPO history.

Start serious consideration of having a police commissioner rather than police commissioners.


Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

5 replies on “We Need This Guy As Police Commissioner”

  1. Why did L. Sheehan and S. Levinson resign? Fighting for what’s right is in serious short supply in politics.

  2. What’s really needed is a Mayor and Council which gets enough pressure from the general public (as in–US) to make necessary changes. The Police Commission has been a bit of a joke for years. It’s another patronage job which performs NONE of its designated functions. But until people start to care and pressure Council members and Mayor Blangiardi, nothing will change.

  3. Due to the collective bargaining agreement and the HPD officer’s right to due process nothing would change with a single police commissioner.

  4. You wrote ‘Blood Bloods’ – I think correct title is ‘Blue Bloods’.

    Regarding Larry Barr’s comment, I forwarded your column to Mayor Blangiardi and Council Member Say, for their consideration.

    Related to Tom Copp’s comment, I sent an email yesterday to Mayor Blangiardi suggesting that city, state, federal employees sign an agreement upon employment to forfeit their right to privacy on personnel matters. Public service employees work for the public, and, therefore, their personnel records should be open to the public. This would help HPD to be more transparent when it does not have to be hindered by privacy issues. I sent an email today to Govenor Ige on this subject as it pertains to state workers, and I plan to send an email, after he is inaugurated, to President-elect Biden on this subject as it pertains to federal workers.

    I disagree with your characterization of Chief Ballard as ‘pretty spineless’. I think she could have easily retired instead of taking on the job of police chief. On two occasions when I contacted her for response on concerns, she thoroughly answered my questions the first time, and, I thought, responded as well as she could the second time, considering the constraints of her job. I am not fully informed on the retesting issue, but I would not equate retesting to cheating in order to get as many good police officers as possible. I think recruiting people to be Honolulu police officers must be very difficult due to the danger and stress of the job, and the low pay considering what police officers are paid in other states. Furthermore, if Chief Ballard is not more outspoken on issues, it may be due to the constraints of her job. She can’t speak her mind if HPD may get sued for doing so. It’s easy to vilify when you aren’t in the job with its challenges, demands and consequences of wrongful actions.

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