Police commissioners lay groundwork for lengthy process of finding new HPD chief

Updated: Apr. 19, 2021 at 6:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Commission called an urgent meeting to discuss the process of hiring HPD’s next chief.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard announced her sudden retirement on April 9 and the commission scheduled a meeting Monday ― two days ahead of their regularly scheduled meeting ― to learn more about picking a new leader.

The current group is made up of different commissioners from the one that chose Ballard in 2017, and members had a lot of questions for Duane Pang, first deputy corporation counsel.

Pang told them the first step is to contact the Department of Human Resources to get the job posted.

“I pulled up the one from 2017 and it announces the minimum qualifications and what the department, what the chief’s position requires,” he said.

Previous commissioners also hired consultants to assist with the written and psychological examinations and conduct the first round of interviews.

“Develop questions, they interview all the qualified applicants. And then they rank the qualified applicants and they provide you with a qualified list,” Pang said.

In 2017, after the retirement of disgraced ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, there were more than 30 applicants. The consultants narrowed that down to seven finalists.

Each was then interviewed by the commission before Ballard was chosen.

Pang said the charter does not dictate how the civilian body makes their choice so they don’t need to pay for a consulting firm and they don’t have to have all the examinations. Pang said these are the steps previous commissions worked before making their choice.

Pang reassured Commission Chair Shannon Alivado that the group does not need to wait until Ballard leaves on June 1 to move forward.

What was not discussed in the public forum: Who will be the interim chief when Ballard leaves. Pang said it’s always been in line with the chain of command so the current deputy Chief John McCarthy would be the acting chief until one can be named. However, McCarthy is currently on personal leave.

The police commission will discuss this further at the upcoming meeting this Wednesday.

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