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Citizens panel won’t help pick next Honolulu police chief

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Honolulu Police Commission Chairman Max Sword speaks with reporters at the Honolulu Police Department headquarters on Jan. 4. Sword said today that the selection process for the next police chief is behind schedule.

The Honolulu Police Commission today decided not to form a citizen advisory panel to assist in the intensely watched selection of a new police chief after receiving flak for its initial list of volunteers.

Thirteen Oahu residents were nominated by commissioners to serve on the panel. From the list, the commission was to pick five. The list included former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and former Police Chief Lee Donohue.

But the name that generated the most controversy was commission Chairman Max Sword’s selection of bounty hunter Beth Chapman.

Commission members said the public debate over who was on the list and who wasn’t became a distraction from the bigger priority of selecting a chief.

Sword acknowledged that his selection of Chapman may have played a role in the decision to nix a citizen panel.

But during the meeting, other commissioners said they were unhappy that there was negative public feedback because advocates for various interest groups were not among the 13 nominees.

Between 32 to 35 qualified applicants are seeking to be chief of Honolulu Police Department following the retirement of Louis Kealoha effective April 1.

Sword said the selection process is about a month behind schedule, not because of the brouhaha over the now-aborted advisory panel, but bureaucratic delays in selecting a paid consultant to help guide the commission. Instead of late July/early August, a chief now likely won’t be selected until late August/early September, he said.

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