After 25 years of keeping misconduct by law enforcement secret, this bill I helped negotiate to open misconduct records to the public has passed and will finally become law.
Law enforcement officers already have one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs, so we must support our good officers who are trying to weed out the bad. In Hawaii there have been over 80 cases of officers suspended or discharged for unwarranted violence or assault, and over 100 cases of officers filing fraudulent reports or covering up for other officers in recent years. And that's not even including corrupt former Police Chief Louis Kealoha.
This bill will end 25 years of officer misconduct being kept secret, and will allow public disclosure of misconduct when an officer is found to have violated procedures resulting in a suspension or discharge. Public disclosure and transparency of misconduct has been standard procedure in most other states in which bad officers' names and violations are publicly disclosed to ensure the public knows they will be held accountable and there is justice for victims.
I spoke at length with officers I know who are out there putting their lives on the line every day who described a work culture in which good cops are often pressured into keeping silent to protect bad cops, and a disciplinary process with so many off ramps that it can allow bad behavior to continue. Officers complain that keeping misconduct secret makes the public assume all officers are guilty and can't be trusted, making their difficult jobs even more difficult and dangerous.
This bill also empowers the Law Enforcement Standards Board to revoke officer certifications for misconduct should police chiefs fail to take appropriate action, and will standardize use of force procedures across all county police departments.
Public trust in law enforcement is critical to ensuring justice for all. The difficult and often dangerous job of law enforcement is safer, easier, and more effectively executed when citizens trust those empowered to serve and protect them. We owe it to our good cops to help them weed out the bad, and build trust between our communities and the law enforcement officers we rely on to serve and protect us.