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Resource ID: #26437
Subject: Police
Source: Honolulu Civil Beat
Affiliation: 
Date: Feb. 25, 26, 27, 28, March 1, 2013

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Description

This 5-part series examines the secrecy surrounding police misconduct in Hawaii and the effect that lack of disclosure has on the public. In1995, after local college journalists had fought and won a court battle to gain access to police disciplinary files, the politically powerful statewide police union convinced the Legislature to keep the records out of public view. We wanted to explore the effects of this major public policy decision and, nearly 20 years later, determine if police and other government officials were doing a good job overseeing misconduct and ensuring that the public was being protected from bad cops. Since the public can't scrutinize police behavior themselves, we wanted to see what safeguards are in place so we can be confident our police officers, with their extraordinary power over ordinary citizens, are professional and competent. It turns out that police officers throughout the state are regularly disciplined for egregious offenses -- violence, lying, even criminal convictions. But there's no way to know if they are being effectively disciplined, and it appears police administrators are at the mercy of strong union contracts. Local police commissions and prosecutors either ignore serious cases or can't do anything about them under the current system.

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