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Senator Recommends Charter Amendments on Police Commission

State Senator Will Espero (Dist. 19 – ʻEwa, Ocean Pointe, ʻEwa by Gentry, Iroquois Point) testified on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 before the City and County of Honolulu’s Charter Commission at Honolulu Hale asking the commissioners to consider two charter amendments to be voted on by the public next year.

Honolulu Police Commission

The first amendment would give the Police Commission the power and authority to punish and penalize police officers for police misconduct or bad behavior. Currently, the Police Commission can sustain a complaint against an officer, but only the Police Department has the authority to discipline an officer.

If the department disagrees with the Police Commission findings, it can choose to disregard the Police Commission decision. The Charter does state that the Commission cannot interfere in the administrative affairs of the department.

This was the case regarding John Helms III and his friend who were hiking and were assaulted by police officers due to being misidentified by the police. Following a lawsuit, the C & C did give the hikers a settlement, and it is our understanding the police officers involved were not punished.

The second amendment would allow the mayor to terminate the employment of the police chief with the majority support of the Police Commission. Currently, the Police Commission hires and fires the police chief. As the Mayor is the head of the county government and can fire other department heads, he should be able to do the same with the police and fire chiefs with the support of the hiring authority.

“These two charter amendments will strengthen civilian oversight of our police department,” said Sen. Espero. “If passed, they will also help to rebuild public trust and confidence in the police department, which has been plagued by an increasing number of police-involved crimes and negative stories over the past few years.”

Cell Phone and Driving Law… A Twist No One Probably Knows About!

I just noticed from the latest Hawaii County Police Commission Meeting Minutes (Chief’s Report)  that there is a twist in the cell phone and driving law.

If you are pulled over and on the phone… YOUR ENGINE MUST BE OFF OR YOU CAN STILL BE CITED FOR A TICKET.

“…Regarding the cell phone ban, when pulled over to use the phone, the vehicle’s engine must be turned off. The commission asked that they put out a press release about this…”

Upcoming Police Complaints to be Discussed at Next Police Commission Meeting

Upcoming complaints against the Hawaii Police Department to be discussed at the next Police Commission Meeting to be held on Friday, March 20:

HPC 08-32: Complainant alleged that during his arrest, officers did not present a search warrant, his cane was taken away, he was pushed and knocked to the ground, and the handcuffs were too tight.

HPC 08-33: Complainant alleged that an officer disclosed her confidential medical records without her authorization. At the previous meeting, the commission found insufficient evidence to prove the complainant’s allegation. The complainant presents additional information for reconsideration of the commission’s decision.

HPC 09-01: Complainant alleged that the police did not serve his TRO.

HPC 09-02: Complainant reported that a male and female asked him about purchasing cannabis. He alleged that an officer told him it was because of the way he looked. He also alleged that the officer told him that if he didn’t like it, he could move away from that side of the island.

HPC 09-03A & 03B: Complainants alleged that an officer arrested the wrong person in a domestic abuse case. The complaint was deferred in order to obtain additional information.

HPC 09-07: Complainant alleged that an officer wouldn’t accept his copy of the automobile insurance certificate.

More details on the meeting here.