Big decisions ahead for Honolulu Police Commission

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Members of the Honolulu Police Commission face multiple decisions before deciding on who should replace HPD Chief Susan Ballard.

First they need to decide on how it should be done.

The police commission held a special meeting after Chief Ballard made a surprise announcement that she will retire in June. This was two days after the commission gave a scathing evaluation, in which she still had a year and a half left on her five-year contract.

On Monday, commissioners received guidance from the City’s legal experts on how past chiefs have been selected.

“There is no required process by the charter, but historically this has been done, and I guess the commissioners have felt comfortable with this in the past,” said Duane Pang, first deputy corporation counsel.

When Ballard was selected in 2017, a consulting firm was hired along with a psychologist to evaluate the finalists, which cost nearly $100,000. Pang says there’s a handful of mainland companies who specialize in selecting police chiefs.

“But that doesn’t mean they can’t come from a locally based also right?” asked Shannon Alivado, Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman.

“If they have that expertise and have the qualification, yes, yes,” said Pang.

The commission can then whittle down the candidates to however many finalists they decide. They will then be evaluated by an assessment center made up of three civilians and a mainland police chief.

“They worked with the consultant, developed questions, they interviewed all the qualified applicants, and then they ranked the qualified applicants and they provided you with the qualified list,” said Pang.

Before all this happens, the commission will first have to find an interim chief. In the past, the second in command was named interim chief, which would be Deputy Chief John McCarthy. However, commissioners are free to choose who they want.

“Generally, the number two steps in, but that’s always your call,” said Pang. “The chain of command is an internal thing for the police department, but you have the authority.”

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