- Associated Press - Friday, February 3, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - The Honolulu Police Department says it will ask the City Council to approve a $250,000 severance payment for outgoing police Chief Louis Kealoha, who is the target of a federal investigation involving allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption.

The Honolulu Police Commission approved the retirement deal for Kealoha last month. The agreement calls for Kealoha to be paid within 15 days of signing the Jan. 18 deal, but HPD officials say the $250,000 payment has not been processed.

Acting police Chief Cary Okimoto has questioned whether department funds should be used to cover the severance payment and told the commission Wednesday the department can’t afford it.

“Our budget is really tight and we can’t afford to use that money to pay any severance or any package or stuff like that. It’s already spoken for as far as salaries, any equipment,” Okimoto said.

Commission Chairman Max Sword told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Tuesday the commission is authorized to spend HPD money because it is part of the commission’s duty in removing the chief.

But Okimoto said he is going to ask the council for the money. City law requires the department to seek council approval when spending over $100,000, he said.

If HPD does have to dip into its own funds, acting Deputy Chief William Axt said it is not clear where cuts will have to be made to come up with the extra money.

“Do we stop testing some sex assault kits? Do we stop buying some Tasers or some body cams?” Axt said. “We don’t know what that is, but we’ll get to that point once we reach it.”

Kealoha’s retirement is effective March 1. He has been on paid leave since receiving an FBI target letter in December.

A grand jury is looking into the allegations of civil rights abuses and corruption at the department.

The investigation began more than a year ago after allegations surfaced that Kealoha and his deputy city prosecutor wife, Katherine Kealoha, framed her uncle for the theft of the Kealoha’s home mailbox to discredit him in a family financial dispute. Attorneys for the couple say they haven’t done anything wrong.

A retired officer involved in the mailbox case has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and four other officers have received target letters from the FBI.

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