Commissioner resigns after raising concerns over lack of diversity in police chief search

Luella Costales

A member of the Honolulu Police Commission has resigned.

According to commission chair Max Sword, Luella Costales submitted her letter of resignation Monday.

This comes nearly a week after she raised concerns about a lack of diversity in the process of selecting the department’s next chief.

“How are three people, all law enforcement, none on the community level, all male, what gives them the qualifications, credibility to score that, and that’s where I have a real problem,” she said at last week’s commission meeting.

“Although I respect the majority decision of my fellow commissioners, I cannot in good conscience continue with a process that I feel is flawed. The written exam included subjective questions specific to the relationship between HPD and the needs of the Honolulu community, but it was scored by an outside panel made up of four individuals, three of whom reside outside of Hawaii, and in my opinion, don’t accurately reflect the diversity of our community. The scoring panel lacks diversity in basic key areas, including gender, profession, residence, and cultural and ethnic background. As one who has spent decades advocating for diversity and equality in representation, and whose commission appointment was supported by community members who share in these values, I hope you can understand why I have chosen not to continue to be a part of the selection process.”

Click here to view Costales’ full letter of resignation.

Sword released the following statement following Costales’ resignation:

“I am sincerely disappointed that Luella has decided to resign from the Honolulu Police Commission, especially at this very critical time when we are selecting our new Police Chief.  However, I respect her decision, and wish her well.

“I do stand firm in our decision to move ahead with the selection process, as we feel the contractor we hired, to which all the Commissioners agreed to let handle the process, has done a great job in adhering to the scope of work and timetable as per our contract.  The Commissioners have made it a point to remain objective throughout the process and not be informed of the names of the applicants until the finalists are named.  Media reports have released a list from anonymous sources, if that list is true, it shows a great diversity among the nine candidates selected to move onto the next phase.

“The next phase will include interviews with a diverse local panel made up of men and women in law enforcement.  They will rank the current nine remaining candidates before they come before the Commission, who will then name the finalists from which the new chief will be chosen.

“The Commission is still on target to name a new Police Chief by the end of October.”

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