Another secret panel being used to narrow down list for Honolulu's next police chief

Another secret panel being used to narrow down list for Honolulu's next police chief
Published: Sep. 26, 2017 at 9:17 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 27, 2017 at 11:20 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The secrecy and confusion continue over how Honolulu is choosing its next police chief.

Tuesday, a group of local residents -- whose names are being kept confidential -- began the process of ranking the top nine candidates at a Waikiki hotel.

The issues regarding the selection process have already forced one commissioner out.  Luella Costales resigned Monday citing a lack of diversity with the mainland consultant group, EB Jacobs, which helped narrow down the candidate list from 24 to 9.

At the Honolulu Police Commission meeting on September 7, Costales and several other commissioners expressed concern that the consultants doing the ranking were made up of four, white males, most worked in police departments smaller than Honolulu.

EB Jacobs also picked a secret, citizens panel for the second phase of the process, ranking the 9 semi-finalists so the commission can cut the list even further.

Commission Chair Max Sword says the people on the assessment panel are local residents, "What we've instructed the consultant is to have a diverse group in other words have some females in there."  Sword says all have some kind of law enforcement experience, "It maybe a judge, prosecutor, FBI, or former chiefs."

When asked if Sword would consider releasing the names of that assessment panel after the process is complete he hesitated, "We probably could but I don't see what the relevance would be." Sword says confidentiality is the best way to prevent politics and special interests from trying influence the process, by making it difficult for outsiders to lobby for favored candidates.  For that reason, neither he nor other commissioners have been told the names of the nine semi-finalists or the local panelists who are ranking them.

Critics though say transparency is crucial because the former police chief, Louis Kealoha, was forced to retire as a target of an FBI public corruption case earlier this year and the public should know if anyone on that panel has ties to that criminal investigation.

Sword says he tried to convince Costales to stay hoping her concerns regarding diversity could help with the final selection process.

"I'm greatly disappointed that she did leave but we have to move on," says Sword.

Her departure means, just five commissioners remain and four must agree on their choice for chief.

Thursday morning the commission will get the assessment panel's list. The commission will narrow it down from there and then release those names to the public. A chief is expected be named by the end of October.

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