Police chief finalist speaks out about selection process controversy

Police chief finalist speaks out about selection process controversy
Christine Camp
Christine Camp
Harry Markley
Harry Markley

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - One of the top finalists for Honolulu police chief is speaking out about the controversy surrounding the selection process. The candidate from the mainland says he was disheartened to hear the list of finalists was abruptly expanded from four to six.

"I just hope that they do the right thing for me, for the remaining candidates, for the citizens of Honolulu, and for the officers of the Honolulu Police Department," Phoenix Police Commander Harry Markley, one of two mainland candidates still in the running, said.

The word around the Honolulu Police Department is that the list was expanded to include Assistant Police Chief Debora Tandal who, during a multi-phase process, did not emerge as one of the selection panel's top four candidates. That has many officers and outsiders losing confidence in the process.

When members of the Honolulu Police Commission sat down last Friday to discuss six remaining candidates for top cop, they may not have expected the ensuing firestorm of controversy.

"In the past, there have always been four candidates that were sent up for final selection," Christine Camp, commission chair, said Friday. "In our view, we felt broader was better."

But some accuse the commission of asking the selection committee for two additional candidates because it wanted Honolulu Assistant Police Chief Debora Tandal to advance.

"Well, I was surprised, a little disheartened," Markley, who was among the top four, said about the expansion. "Do I hope that they pick one of the four of us that finished in the top? Yes, I do."

Tandal's scores during the rigorous selection process were not good enough to put her in the top four.

"I just got the phone call that I did not make it into the final 5," Tandal wrote in an e-mail to some of her colleagues last Wednesday. "Although I would have rather moved further in the process I am not unhappy at all at staying in my current position and working with all of you."

She was back in the running a day later.

"Are you concerned at this point that the commission already has its mind made up?" this reporter asked Markley, who has paid his own way to Hawaii for each step of the process.

"I don't know the reasons why they did the expansion," he replied. "The best thing I can tell you is that the only person's performance that I can control is my own, and I prepared and did my homework and did the best I could do on that process. Who they pick is who they pick. It is what it is."

Markley attended Hawaii Loa College in the 1980s and says it's been his dream to return to the islands. He plans to fly back for the final interview, despite the questions surrounding the process.

"I always told myself since I started my law enforcement career over 23 years ago that if the position of police chief of Honolulu ever came open, and I was qualified for it, that I would not let it pass me by," Markley said.

Two members of the selection panel have resigned.

The public is invited to comment on the final six candidates at the commission's next meeting this Friday.