Louis Kealoha named HPD chief


POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Honolulu police captain with a doctorate in education was selected as the city's new police chief yesterday and is expected to guide the department through major financial cuts in a sour economy.

Capt. Louis M. Kealoha was the unanimous choice of the Honolulu Police Commission to lead one of the largest city departments, employing 2,100 police officers and 550 support staff.

“;There's going to be big cuts,”; said Kealoha, interviewed later. “;I believe this is the time we're going to demonstrate who we are. ... We're going to succeed through this, without compromising service to the community.”;

Kealoha said the budget restraints and cuts will give the department an opportunity to re-examine its structure to see where there is duplication of effort and to see what services might be transferred to civilians or the private sector.

He said he also wants to increase the role of volunteer staffing, perhaps by increasing the police reserve officer program.

Kealoha replaces acting Chief Paul Putzulu, who has been in the job since late August after Boisse Correa retired. In May, the six-member commission decided not to renew Correa's contract, ending his 39-year career with HPD.

Kealoha, 49, is a 26-year veteran of HPD, most recently in the Juvenile Services Division.





        ; LOUIS M. KEALOHA

» Age: 49


» Personal: Married to Katherine Kealoha, former city prosecutor, director of Office of Environmental Quality Control since 2008. Daughter, Kristina, 10.


» Education: 1978 graduate of Damien Memorial High School. Bachelor's degree in business administration and criminal justice administration, Wayland Baptist University. Master's degree in criminal justice administration, Chaminade University. Doctorate in education, University of Southern California.


» Experience: 26 years with HPD. Currently captain of the Juvenile Services Division. Has taught criminal justice at Chaminade University for 10 years.


He is the fourth captain in HPD history to hurdle the ranks of major and assistant chief to take the top job.

Kealoha beat out five other candidates, including Putzulu, Assistant Chief Delbert T. Tatsuyama and Assistant Chief Debora Tandal, all of HPD, and two mainland contenders.

Many of the rank and file rejoiced as the news spread.

“;Everybody is saying morale just went up everywhere,”; said Sgt. Ryan Sato with the Juvenile Services Division. “;I wouldn't be surprised if there are parties all over the station.

“;He's very well-respected, well-liked, always tells everybody hello, unlike other candidates,”; Sato said.

Police union leader Tenari Maafala said he was happy to see the selection.

“;We believe the right choice was made, and we're proud of the decision,”; said Maafala, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. “;We wanted to keep it local.”;

Police Commission Chairwoman Christine Camp called Kealoha a “;collaborative leader”; who has the support of the community and the rank and file.

“;I think that's going to be very important when hard decisions are going to have to be made,”; Camp said. “;It's going to be very important when you're doing more with less.”; Camp said Kealoha has served on various boards helping at-risk youths and over the last decade has helped to educate police officers and prepare them for promotion on his own time.

“;Just by his own effort, he's had people follow him and support him,”; she said.

Echoed Sato: “;He's the one that made me go back to college and get a four-year degree. It was his challenge that made me go back. That's what he pushes, education.”;

While Kealoha's relatively junior rank gave pause to some on the commission, others noted that previous captains have made successful chiefs. They include Francis Keala and Doug Gibb.

;[Preview]    New Honolulu police chief selected

The Police Commission unanimously picked Captain Louis Kealoha to be Honolulu's next police chief.

Watch ]


“;We've heard the people who were captains going in have struggled,”; said commission member Craig Watase. “;Some of those captains have gone on to be great leaders. That's what we look for.”;

Kealoha must first undergo a physical exam before appointment to a five-year term. He will also need to work out a transition plan and name his top staff.

Camp has asked Putzulu to stay on during the transition, which the commission hopes to have completed by December.

Putzulu issued a written statement later, saying: “;I would like to congratulate Louis Kealoha for being named the next chief of the Honolulu Police Department. He is well-qualified, and I'm certain that he will work well with the HPD ohana to maintain our department's standing as the best in the nation.”;