Public gets say in chief search
• Photo gallery: Police Chief Panel
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Honolulu Police Commission is aiming to select a police chief at its meeting Wednesday, commission Chairwoman Christine Camp said yesterday.
Seven people testified at a public hearing yesterday on the six finalists. The commission also received dozens of written comments.
An overwhelming number of the written communications submitted by midday yesterday were in support of HPD Capt. Louis Kealoha. Acting Police Chief Paul Putzulu received the endorsement of the three Neighbor Island police chiefs.
The other four candidates are: Commander Harry Markley of the Phoenix Police Department; HPD assistant chiefs Debora Tandal and Delbert Tatsuyama; and Commander Gary Yamashiroya of the Chicago Police Department.
The commission is picking a successor to Boisse Correa, who retired in August after five years as chief.
The commission's search process has come under fire by City Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz, the head of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and others. The commission last week named six finalists, adding two names to the list of four submitted by the police chief selection committee.
2 ON PANEL RESIGNED
Two of the five members of the selection committee resigned after the commission's decision to go with six finalists. Camp said the commission wanted to expand the pool and asked for additional candidates, pointing out that the last several chief searches were handled directly by the commission.
Camp said the commission will conduct private interviews with the six candidates on Monday and Tuesday. The commission could have a selection by the time of its meeting scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Wednesday, Camp said.
"Hopefully, we'll have some kind of announcements by Wednesday but at this point, we're going through our process," Camp said.
A couple, Van Horn Diamond and Kathryn Diamond, testified yesterday in support of Putzulu.
As acting chief, "he already has demonstrated the capacity to lead the Honolulu Police Department," Van Horn Diamond said.
Retired HPD detective Robert Bolson said he's worked with all four of the local candidates and has come to the conclusion that Putzulu is the best qualified.
Bolson described Putzulu as "intelligent and knowledgeable and he has vision."
Albert Silva, a former member of the Wai'anae Coast Neighborhood Board, endorsed Tandal, saying she went "above and beyond" for his community. "We need a wahine sooner or later and I think that we have the best wahine that I know of."
Tenari Ma'afala, SHOPO president, said the police union is not endorsing any candidate but is hopeful that the new chief will come from within HPD's ranks.
All four HPD candidates have solid credentials, Ma'afala said. "I really hope you give it some thought and consideration to keep the local local and consider one of the four administrators applying," he said.
But Chuck Wheatley, a member of the Waipahu Neighborhood Board, said he wants someone without ties to HPD to become chief.
"I would like somebody from outside the state of Hawai'i to bring fresh ideas and clean up some of the good-old-boy stuff," Wheatley said.
Of the roughly 100 letters made available to the public yesterday, about 90 percent endorsed Kealoha's candidacy. A good number of Kealoha's supporters identified themselves as police officers or former officers.
The City Council Public Safety Committee, headed by Dela Cruz, is calling on commission members, selection committee members and commission executive officer George Clemente to answer questions at a special meeting Monday afternoon.
Dela Cruz said he's concerned about what he's read in the newspaper and heard from police officers about the selection process.
Camp yesterday told reporters that the process has been above board and that no one has been pre-selected.
"We don't have anyone in mind for police chief," she said.
Asked if she had any regrets about how the selection process has played out so far, Camp said: "What we want to focus on at this point is selecting the best-qualified chief. And what's happened is what it is. What have to do is to look forward because this is our opportunity to find the best-qualified candidate as our new chief."