By Hugh Clark
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
KAILUA-KONA The Big Island Police Commission yesterday voted 6-1 to select acting Police Chief Jimmy Correa over Honolulu police Maj. Robert Prasser as the new chief of the countys 300-member police force.
Correa, 47, a Big Island deputy chief for five years until he was named the acting head when Wayne Carvalho retired in October, hugged teary-eyed relatives after the 3 1/2-hour commission meeting that included testimony and support for both finalists.
Correa, holding his 11-month-old granddaughter Jazime, said that when he applied he did not anticipate the long, drawn-out process that included four public hearings after he and Prasser were named as the two finalists.
"Its an honor," said Correa, who has been with the department since 1975. "I had tremendous support from the public."
Correa said changes will occur, but none will come too quickly or be too dramatic. He has said that he wants the Big Island department to seek national accreditation, which the Maui police department has done. He said the accreditation could help validate the departments quality.
Prasser, 48, praised Correa, saying, "Jimmy is going to make a fine chief."
Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida tried to seek a closed session meeting with the commissioners to discuss possible lawsuits challenging a one-year residency requirement for the new chief.
But commissioner Clarence Mills spoke against a delay and the commission agreed by a 4-3 vote, clearing the way for the selection of Correa.
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