Former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha in 2010: What a Difference a Decade Makes
HONOLULU sat down with Louis Kealoha in his first year as HPD chief. Check out what he had to say about corruption, “intelligence-led policing,” and more.
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Updated on September 27, 2019: Former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha is awaiting sentencing later this year after being found guilty in June of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. His wife, former deputy city prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, is being held in federal custody until sentencing. The once-powerful couple also is awaiting trial on alleged bank fraud and identity theft.
Nearly a decade ago, HONOLULU Magazine sat down with Louis Kealoha in 2010 for an in-depth interview. It’s especially interesting to look back now to see what he had to say about priorities, corruption, building public trust and something called “intelligence-led policing.” We think he missed that last one entirely.
PHOTO: MARK ARBEIT
O‘ahu got its 10th chief of police last November, when the Police Commission unanimously selected Louis Kealoha from a field of six candidates.
A 26-year veteran of the force, 13 of them on patrol, Kealoha has worked his way through the Honolulu Police Department’s divisions, including the Criminal Investigation Division, the Narcotics/Vice Division, and finally the Juvenile Services Division.
He’s also picked up a couple of degrees along the way: a master’s of science in criminal justice administration from Chaminade University and a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California.
We sat down with Kealoha in May, six months after he took the job, to find out more about what he’s learned so far and how he’s battling crime on O‘ahu. Appointed to a five-year term, one of his first tasks was to develop a five-year plan to improve the department, so we asked about that, too.
HONOLULU Magazine: What have you discovered about the chief of police job that you didn’t know back in November?
Louis Kealoha: One of the things I’m learning is that implementing change takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. That’s where relationships come in, building trust in the rank and file, the command staff, the politicians, everyone. It’s difficult to change the system.
HPD budget for fiscal year 2010.
HM: When you took over, did you feel the need to take the department in a different direction than your predecessor, Boisse Correa?
LK: When it comes to policy, departments change according to the external environment. We didn’t have to make any drastic changes, but I did want to create a positive climate, where people want to come to work.
HM: What are the major challenges faced by the Honolulu Police Department?
LK: Obviously the economy. Maintaining the public’s trust in the police. In July, our civilian employees are going to be furloughed. That’s going to be a challenge, because the officers aren’t going to be furloughed, so that causes a gap. The challenge is to bring the team together, so we can all move forward, in terms of morale. The plan is that, despite the furloughs, we’re still going to provide the same kinds of services we normally do.
HM: When you look at the crime stats, what jumps out at you? What does HPD need to focus on?
LK: Keeping our public safe. Nothing specific.
HM: How do you prioritize between, for example, violent crime, property crime and highway safety?
LK: It just depends on the situation. It’s hard to say, oh, we’re only going to focus our resources on violent crimes. For everything, whether it’s traffic violations, property crimes, violent crimes, there’s a sense of urgency that we have to react with. Not a sense of panic. They’re all important.
HM: Hawai‘i ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to meth use. How would you characterize the department’s anti-ice efforts?
LK: In addition to traditional enforcement, HPD is addressing the ice problem through prevention, such as Weed & Seed, the Police Activities League and community policing, and education, such as the DARE program. We are also supporting legislation that seeks stiffer penalties for meth-related offenses.