In wake of Memphis case, commission grills HPD chief about slow discipline for officers accused of wrongdoing
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The quick release of Memphis police officers charged with the murder of Tire Nichols is prompting calls for change in Honolulu.
HPD Chief Joe Logan said Wednesday he does not have the authority to immediately fire a police officer, raising more questions about police discipline at a Honolulu Police Commission meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Logan had saved his comments on the Memphis case for the meeting.
He said the HPD training made such violence unlikely here.
GRAPHIC: Impassioned calls for police reform at Tire Nichols’ funeral
But the speed of discipline in Memphis has prompted an unusual spate of questions from police commissioners about why HPD’s system is so slow. Commissioner Ann Botticelli asked, “How can they act so quickly in Memphis while our process in Honolulu is taking so long?”
Logan said he couldn’t quit immediately due to union contracts and department policies.
“We can take action,” Logan said. “In other words, take someone off the street, take their badge and gun, strip them of their law enforcement powers, and put them in an administrative position pending the incident’s resolution.”
However, commissioners compared the Memphis case to the 2021 police chase and crash in Makaha, which caused several serious injuries. Officials suspected of causing the crash and covering up their involvement continue to face criminal and internal investigations. They’re on duty 17 months after the incident — with city-paid attorneys.
HPD disciplinary report reveals cellblock strikes in which officers were fired and suspended
Commissioner Richard Parry called it “exaggerated for an internal investigation” and compared it to the shooting in Memphis.
“They acted very quickly on their incident, almost a year later, and we still haven’t received a response to it and it just seems how incredibly different this is,” Parry said. Logan replied: “Yes, the incidents are serious and we have to think of the community first, we also have to think of our officers if we take action that is too drastic.”
Commission Chair Doug Chin added:
“If it’s not resolved, I think it will hurt public trust and people will ask if what’s really going on.”
Logan said he’d like to expedite the process, but “to make sure we’ve got all the investigative components connected, crossed all the Ts with all the Iss, to make sure we’ve done a thorough investigation, unfortunately that takes time.”
The commissioners were also concerned about how many officers eventually fought their punishment through union grievances and how many were reduced.
The boss said he needed to work with police union SHOPO to see if there was a way to streamline the process.
Copyright 2023 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.