The search for Honolulu's next police chief is within days of completion while the cloud hanging over the process is seemingly darker than ever.
Last week, Commission Chairman Max Sword had to withdraw from the process because he is related by marriage to one of the finalists. That leaves only four commissioners able to vote, and the law requires all four to agree on a single candidate.
It's also disappointing that Acting Chief Cary Okimoto chose to retire at the end of this month, forcing another leadership change at HPD before a new chief can get on board.
But there is still reason for hope.
Under Sword's leadership, the commission had an independent Mainland consulting company select the nine semi-finalists, who were then ranked by a local group of citizen experts. The commission chose the seven finalists without knowing their names.
That brought in law enforcement expertise and prevented political influence which has affected the selection of prior chiefs.
It was the right thing to do given that the commissioners know politics better than police work.
The result: We have seven solid and respected finalists. And, barring some new crisis, it looks like we will soon have a new chief chosen for his or her quality instead of connections.