Commission outlines next steps for Honolulu police chief applicants

Honolulu Police Department

The Honolulu Police Commission has received 38 applications for the position of Chief of Police of the Honolulu Police Department. The applicants are from both in-state and the mainland with 25 to 30-percent from the mainland. Applications were collected until April 3, 2017.

HPD’s last chief, Louis Kealoha, retired March 1 after 33 years of service. It’s a decision he made amid a federal investigation into conspiracy and corruption, also involving his wife, city deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha.

The commission wanted to widen the pool of applicants by making changes to a law that restricted applicants to be residents of the state for a year immediately preceding being appointed.

The police commission views this as a problem, because it means anyone interested in applying from out of state isn’t eligible.

The police union did not feel that removing the restriction was necessary, citing that past chiefs, like Kealoha, Boisse Correa, and Lee Donohue, have all moved up the ranks from within the department.

A bill (HB1534) is currently heading to conference committee that would remove the restriction. Commission chairman Max Sword approached legislators with the concern. The house version of the bill just removed the text with the residency requirement. The senate version limited the scope of requirement by allowing out-of-state, current heads of county police department to apply.

The next step in the application process is a written exam. The commission’s consultant will be developing the exam based on the consultant’s expertise, input from law enforcement, and the community.

After the written exam, applicants who are deemed qualified will participate in an assessment center. The applicants will be judged by a group selected by the commission that will receive training from the consultant prior to the assessment.

The commissioners will then select the finalists based upon the scores from the written exam and assessment center. The finalists will then be interviewed by the commission and are subject to a background check and psychological evaluation. The commission is also thinking of ways to have the public directly involved in the process.

The commission previously said that they want to make sure whoever does get the job is open with the public.

“One of my things is will the chief be available to go out into the public? Like if someone gets shot, you’d like to see the police chief talk about the issue, because the community feels a lot safer when they see the chief talking about it,” Sword said in a previous report.

Sword says candidates’ names will not be released until the final stage of the hiring process.

The commission hopes to appoint a new chief by this July or August. The position includes an annual salary of $182,088 with $8,320 standard of conduct pay.

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