Police commission taps assistant chief to lead HPD until a permanent replacement is hired

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 10:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu Police Commission has tapped Assistant Police Chief Rade Vanic to serve as interim chief after Police Chief Susan Ballard steps down June 1.

Vanic will serve as interim chief until a permanent one can be hired after a national search. He has more than 21 years on the force.

The commission went behind closed doors to appoint Vanic. Commission Chair Shannon Alivado made the announcement shortly before the closure of the commission’s meeting Wednesday.

“We saw that he had leadership skills that were exemplified, not only before the commission but before council hearings,” Alivado said. “He served in every bureau of the police department.”

Alivado pointed to his experience in managerial and administrative roles over his two-decade career with the force.

“With those qualifications, the commission, as a whole, saw that it would be the prefect interim chief to name during this period as we go through the chief selection process,” Alivado added.

As assistant chief, Vanic heads the Support Services Division at the Honolulu Police Department.

Before announcing the decision, commission members expressed concerns that by appointing Vanic, they were ignoring HPD’s internal chain of command, picking him over two deputy chiefs ahead of him.

“We would suggest that the interim chief at least have the minimum qualifications dictated in the charter,” deputy city corporation counsel Duane Pang told commissioners.

“Stated another way, those internal policies don’t apply to this situation?” asked commissioner Doug Chin.

“That’s correct,” replied Pang.

Previously, Vanic was commander of the Information Technology Division and District 3 (Pearl City/Waipahu). He has also worked in the Criminal Investigation and Community Affairs divisions.

The decision comes as Ballard has all but disappeared from public view following her decision to step down. She has been absent from two recent commission meetings.

In a letter to commissioners, Ballard said, “I apologize for not being able to attend in person. As you know, I recently underwent a medical procedure and my recovery has been slower than anticipated.”

Ballard did not say what the procedure was. She added that she has already begun transitioning the assistant chiefs to take over her remaining duties.

“As they will be the ones helping to run the department while you name the interim chief, and ultimately, select the next chief,” Ballard said.

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