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Honolulu Police Department getting first woman police chief

Updated: 
October 26, 2017 - 3:57pm

HONOLULU — A police major was selected Wednesday as the first woman to be chief of the Honolulu Police Department — an agency that has been rocked by a federal corruption investigation.

The police commission voted unanimously for Maj. Susan Ballard to replace Louis Kealoha, who agreed to retire amid the investigation.

Last week, a federal grand jury indicted Kealoha, his deputy city prosecutor wife and four current and former officers on allegations of conspiring to frame a man.

According to the indictment, the Kealohas orchestrated the theft of their home mailbox in an attempt to discredit Katherine Kealoha’s uncle in a family financial dispute. The Kealohas have pleaded not guilty.

Ballard told reporters the allegations made her angry.

Ballard, a 32-year veteran of the department, stood out because she “discussed exactly what she was going to do and what her priorities were,” said Loretta Sheehan, a member of the commission.

“She was inspirational,” Sheehan said.

Ballard said she wasn’t yet ready to publicly discuss those plans.

Finalists included a former Pennsylvania police major, a retired chief in Texas and a retired U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

A date for Ballard’s swearing-in hasn’t been set. She must first pass physical and psychological tests.

Friday’s unsealing of the indictment added pressure on the commission to select a chief.

“We were very conscious of HPD being left rudderless and we keenly felt the department was hurting and they wanted direction and they wanted their faith restored,” Sheehan said.

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