Honolulu councilman calls on police to reinstate virus units

HONOLULU — A Honolulu city councilman has called on the city’s police chief to reinstate its coronavirus enforcement unit, which was suspended after allegations that officers abused overtime hour submissions.

“I hope that the HPD chief will reconsider the department’s decision,” said Councilman Ron Menor, who chairs the city’s Legal Affairs Committee.

Menor proposed Monday that Police Chief Susan Ballard should only ban the officers currently under investigation for wrongdoing.

The rest of the officers should continue to enforce coronavirus restrictions around the city, especially with the upcoming holiday season fast approaching, Menor said.

Law enforcement officials suspended the units last Friday after the officials were told in an internal Nov. 10 memo that 59 officers on the coronavirus enforcement team had been flagged in an audit for overtime violations, Hawaii News Now reported.

At least 10 officers logged 200 or more hours of overtime over a five-week period. Records show that two officers recorded more than 300 hours of overtime from Sept. 27 to Oct. 31, or about 60 hours of overtime each week.

Eight officers said they worked between 200 and 256 hours of overtime during the five-week period. Another 49 officers logged between 130 and 198 hours of overtime.

The job of ensuring that Honolulu’s residents and tourists are following coronavirus guidelines is now conducted by on-duty patrol officers, who take assignments based on their availability.

The task force was also assigned to check in on those who were forced to quarantine after flying into Honolulu from out of state to ensure that they were following 14-day lockdown procedures. The unit was also tasked with responding to 911 complaints for potential coronavirus violations.


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