Camp tells council "no agenda" in hiring new chief

Camp tells council "no agenda" in hiring new chief
Ann Kobayashi
Ann Kobayashi

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just hours before Louis Kealoha was named Honolulu's new police chief the chairperson of the police commission went before the Honolulu City Council to address criticism of the selection process.

"There's nothing that we've hidden. There's no agenda," chairperson Christine Camp told the council.

Council members Charles Djou, Donovan Dela Cruz, Ann Kobayashi, and Ikaika Anderson spent more than an hour questioning Camp Wednesday.

They wanted to know if she had manipulated the hiring process so the candidate she liked would be hired.

Djou asked, "What was wrong with the selection process of chief Gibbs, chief Nakamura, chief Donohue, and chief Correa that you felt the need to change the process?"

In the past the police commission has always picked the chief from a pool of four finalists.

Members of the council wanted to know why this time the list of finalists was expanded from the top four candidates (as graded by the commission's selection committee) to the top six candidates.

There has been speculation camp changed the rules mid-stream so Assistant Chief Debora Tandal, the only female candidate, would still be in the running.

"You know, this creates all these rumors, and it's really unfortunate because those rumors will continue for a while," Kobayashi said.

"I would be the very last person to advance someone because of their gender. It would be a disservice to everyone hard working woman in this country ... in this city ... everywhere. It would go against everything that I believe in," Camp told the council.

Camp said the selection process was transparent, straight forward, and "without undo influence by anyone."

She said it was her decision to expand the list of finalists to six ... and while two members of the selection committee resigned because of her decision ... no-one on the commission disagreed.

"I felt that more options were better. I was reminded about how (in) the UH (president's) selection process there were just two ... few candidates ... and what I was looking for was having a broader choice. Having a broader choice is not a bad thing when you are making a decision of this magnitude," Camp added.

In the end even council members who have criticized Camp say she did have the authority to expand the list of finalists. But those council members say they may want to fine-tune the rules that govern the police commission so this kind of controversy can be avoided in the future.

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