Chief’s surprise leave irks police panel
The Honolulu Police Commission is asking for more forthrightness and timely disclosure from Police Chief Boisse Correa after his failure to notify the commission of an extended leave due to recurring back problems last year.
Commission Chairwoman Christine Camp said that would avoid "a lot of questions, as if he's hiding something, which was not the case."
The commission met yesterday afternoon with Correa and later in private in the annual review of the police chief.
Correa was on injured leave from his $121,141-a-year job for the last four months of 2007 with a back injury. But the commission did not learn about his injury immediately, and the information became public through the media.
Correa cited medical privacy issues as to the reason he did not fully disclose his condition, Camp said.
"He did let us know he was out injured, but unfortunately that communication didn't come to us on a timely basis and we ended up having to ask where he was, and then we found out he was on injured leave," she said.
Camp said the new commission has set a clear understanding with the chief that while medical conditions are a personal matter, he must be held to a higher standard, being in the public eye.
As of Sept. 26, Correa was out 112 days on injured leave since he took office August 2004, including three back surgeries in 2006 and 2007. Those 112 days do not include the last three months of 2007.
A written news release from the commission indicated a glowing review, saying Correa did a good job as a capable leader, has been open, accessible, frank and forthright, is very articulate, commands respect and creates a positive air of confidence and competence in himself and the department, which received reaccreditation in 2007.
And despite his absence, the department ran smoothly, which the commission attributed to the organizational structure and the leadership that he put in place, Camp said.
Correa commented after meeting with commissioners: "I've been back to work for four months now, and communication with the commission is better than ever.
"During my absence, the department did not miss a beat in carrying out our mission," he said. "HPD has the best employees of any police department in the nation."
Star-Bulletin Reporter Gene Park contributed to this report.