HPD at a crossroads as search for new police chief gets underway

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Honolulu Police Commission is now accepting applications for a new HPD chief. With the department facing intense public scrutiny, some legal experts say the commission’s decision is more important than ever.

The police commission says it will take four to six months to select a new chief. At a time when there are more calls for transparency from the police department, the commission is also asking for more input from the public.

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The next HPD chief will earn more than $205,000 a year. The commission is looking for someone with personal and professional integrity, and progressive vision.

The commission will hire a consulting firm to help with the search and will ask that firm to get a lot of input from the public.

“I think that’s really what this process, what we would like this process be about, something that the applicants and the community feel like they’re a part of,” said Shannon Alivado, chairwoman of the Honolulu Police Commission.

After the recent police shootings, there is growing tension between the public’s right to know and HPD’s policy of withholding information. Former commission chairwoman Loretta Sheehan says the next chief will likely have to weigh in on this issue.

“Anyone can give lip service to the value of transparency, but the devil is in the details, and that’s what has to be ironed out with the next chief,” she said.

One of the problems under former Chief Susan Ballard was the escalating overtime costs. Alivado wants the next chief to be better at controlling that.

“I think what’s also important is understanding the city budget and what is required of running such a large department of over 2,000 personnel,” said Alivado.

Sheehan adds that this is also a chance to pick someone willing to make bold moves and redefine the role of the police department.

“Where’s the focus and where should, perhaps, other agencies be taking over some of the tasks that the police are taking on in the past?” said Sheehan.

A deputy chief will also be needed. John McCarthy has announced that he will retire on July 1 after 45 years of service, and says he’s considering applying for the chief’s position.

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