Commission scraps citizens panel that would have aided search for next police chief

Plans to utilize community input to select Honolulu’s new police chief have been scrapped for now.

The Honolulu Police Commission decided against having a Citizens’ Assessment Panel as part of the search for the Honolulu Police Department’s next leader.

Up until the commission meeting on Wednesday, May 17, the panel was a go. The seven commissioners had even voted for who they wanted on the five-person panel.

There were 13 candidates, including former HPD Chief Lee Donohue, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hanneman, and reality TV star and wife of Dog the Bounty Hunter Beth Chapman.

But on Wednesday, commissioners agreed to scrap the idea altogether, citing concerns that the panel became too distracting in the selection process for Honolulu’s new police chief.

“It’s just going sideways,” said commission chairman Max Sword. “The perception (was) people think this is the group that picks the chief. No. They were just an extra pair of eyes. It was not so much public pressure but a misperception of what they were supposed to do.”

That doesn’t mean community input is off the table entirely.

“We’re going to meet with the consultant and have some ideas of how we go about doing that without delaying the picking of the chief with the timetable we have,” said Sword.

The commission says scrapping the panel shouldn’t delay the process of picking a new leader for the state’s largest police department, which is expected in late August, early September.

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