- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha defended the promotion of a major who was arrested in 1994 for domestic violence after a lawmaker complained the selection is bad for the department’s image.

Kealoha said Thursday he’s confident Maj. Ryan Borges will be an excellent assistant chief. Borges “has been honest and open about his past,” Kealoha said in a statement. “We’ve all made mistakes in our lives, but what’s important is what we do afterwards.”

Honolulu prosecutor spokesman Dave Koga said the case file has been destroyed because of its age. He didn’t have details beyond it being a domestic violence case. Borges pleaded guilty to second-degree terroristic threatening and received probation, Koga said.

According to court records, Borges and Laura Donaldean Borges divorced in 2001. Reached by phone, she declined to comment on the domestic violence case. “I’m really proud of Ryan,” she said when asked about his promotion.

The promotion sends the wrong message about how the department views domestic violence, said state Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the public safety committee and vice president of the Senate. He recalled that in 2014, female lawmakers were upset with the department’s reaction to the case of a sergeant caught on surveillance video fighting with his girlfriend.

“One would think that the chief and the leadership would make some decisions that would … uplift its image,” he said. “Were there other qualified candidates that could have been promoted?”

Espero is also concerned about a 2014 case involving a temporary restraining order issued against Borges. Allegations of threats were brought by the former boyfriend of Borges’ daughter, which were dismissed in court, said Borges’ attorney for the case, Richard Wurdeman.

“It was completely unfounded,” Wurdeman said.

While Wurdeman didn’t represent Borges for the 1994 case, he noted that Borges later received a gubernatorial pardon. “He’s been pardoned,” Wurdeman said. “He doesn’t have a conviction.”

The promotion is deserved, Wurdeman said, calling Borges a “highly qualified person to serve as assistant chief.” He said Espero’s attack on his past is “unbecoming of a state senator.”

Borges couldn’t be reached for comment.

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