Ballard addresses abuse allegations against 4 officers
The Honolulu Police Department is stepping up counseling and training in the wake of recent arrests of four officers linked to separate misdemeanor domestic violence charges.
“Any time an officer is involved in domestic violence, we take it very seriously,” Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said at a news conference Tuesday.
Ballard said the department has launched a volunteer Resilience Training program that teaches officers when to step back and avoid confrontation and stressful situations — “to basically hit the pause button and walk away.”
In addition, the department is partnering with the police union to look for ways to support its members, and she has personally started addressing the topic during officer reviews.
“We’re used to helping everybody else and taking action against other people,” the chief said, “but we are not really that good about taking a look at ourselves and realizing when we are under stress and how our reactions affect other people.”
One of the four officers arrested this month was police Sgt. Darren Cachola, who has a high-profile history of run-ins with the law because of domestic abuse. He was arrested most recently on April 22 for misdemeanor abuse of a household member.
In 2014, Cachola’s gun and badge were taken from him after surveillance video showed him in a brawl with his former girlfriend in a Waipahu restaurant. Cachola was fired but subsequently won back his job when an arbitrator reversed the decision.
Also this month, Cachola’s estranged wife filed a civil lawsuit against him and the Police Department. The lawsuit accuses him of assault and battery in 2017 and alleges negligence, conspiracy and infliction of emotional distress by him and other members of the department.
Other officers arrested this month:
>> Cpl. Justin Castro, charged with terroristic threatening and abuse of a family member. The 20-year veteran worked in the training division.
>> Officer Troy Stewart, who was assigned to the Downtown Honolulu district, was taken into custody for shoving a woman at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
>> A fourth officer, charged with abuse of a household member, had his case dismissed by the prosecuting attorney, though an administrative investigation continues.
The police powers of all the accused officers were removed, and they were transferred to different divisions, Ballard said.
Chalking up the recent run of arrests to a “bad month,” Ballard said she didn’t believe the department’s record of domestic abuse was any worse than that of the general public. She said the department usually sees five to seven cases a year.