Seven candidates are now left in the closely watched search for Honolulu’s next police chief, a post that’s been vacant since the end of February.
The Honolulu Police Commission voted unanimously to trim the list of hopefuls down to seven finalists from a list of nine semifinalists.
The finalists are retired Drug Enforcement Agency Agent Thomas Aiu, current HPD Maj. Susan Ballard, retired HPD Maj. Kurt Kendro, retired HPD Assistant Chief Kevin Lima, retired Pennsylvania State Police Maj. Mark Lomax, current Arlington (Texas) Police Department Deputy Chief Jim Lowery and retired HPD Deputy Chief Paul Putzulu.
Eliminated were current Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry and former Chicago Police Department Commander Gary Yamashiroya.
Putzulu and Yamashiroya were among six finalists when retired Chief Louis Kealoha was selected by the commission in 2009, while Ballard was among four finalists when Boisse Correa was picked in 2004.
Pennsylvania-based consultant firm EB Jacobs, with the help of six community stakeholders, scored and ranked the nine prospects following two exhaustive days of testing Tuesday and Wednesday.
The commissioners did not know the identities of any of the candidates, or how they scored, until after they decided to proceed with seven finalists.
Joseph Hinish, a senior consultant from Pennsylvania-based EB Jacobs, recommended to commissioners that they interview the top seven candidates. Hinish said the top two candidates formed one tier of scores while the third- to seventh-ranked finishers a second tier.
The candidates’ interviews will take place behind closed doors, commission Chairman Max Sword said after Thursday’s meeting. The finalists also will be subjected to background checks as well as rigorous psychological evaluations, Sword said. The commissioners also will review extensive dossiers prepared by Jacobs.
No close ties with Kealoha
At a meeting with reporters after Thursday’s conference, Sword said, “This is a good group.” He said he is comfortable with the idea of vetting seven candidates.
Personally, he said, he’s looking for a chief who can interact well with the public. “When there’s an incident, Joe Public likes to feel comfortable when the chief is out there saying, ‘Here’s what we’re doing.’”
The public can provide testimony in person at the commission’s meeting Wednesday. Written testimony also is being accepted. Email can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The commission’s office address is 1060 Richards St., Honolulu, HI 96813, on the first floor of Alii Plaza.
Sword said he hopes a final selection can be made by the end of October.
The common denominator among the seven finalists is that none appear to have been closely associated with Kealoha, who retired shortly after being notified that he is a target of a federal corruption investigation.
Among the one current and three former HPD officers among the final seven, none were promoted by Kealoha to be on his command staff — eight officers of deputy or assistant chief rank — when he retired amid controversy at the end of February. The two who were holdovers from Correa’s term left HPD within two years.
Ballard, the only active HPD person on the list, was a major when Kealoha took over in 2009 and was never promoted. She’s led several divisions, including the Kalihi and Windward patrol districts, and is is now head of the Central Receiving Division. Ballard has been an HPD officer for more than three decades and was one of two women who were finalists for chief when Correa was picked.
Kendro also was a major when Kealoha became chief and was not promoted. When he retired from the force last year after more than 30 years, he was major of the Kapolei patrol district. As major, Kendro also had led the Kalihi patrol district as well as the Traffic and Records divisions. Kendro is now operations manager for Parsons’ Freeway Service Patrol, which operates under contract with the state Department of Transportation.
Putzulu was second-in- command to Correa, Kealoha’s predecessor, and was acting chief when Kealoha was selected. He retired only months after Kealoha became chief. Putzulu spent several years as an investigator with the state Department of Attorney General and is now senior manager for corporate security at Hawaiian Telcom.
Lima was an assistant chief when Kealoha became chief but left within one year. Lima, onetime head of the Narcotics/Vice Division, was reportedly associated with one of the more than 50 companies that sought a marijuana dispensary license. After leaving HPD, he spent five years with the management consultant firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
Aiu spent more than 30 years in federal law enforcement but is best known for his work with the DEA. In 2015 he was named director of corporate security for Hawaiian Airlines. He currently serves as executive director of the Hawai‘i Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation, the nonprofit organization that led the successful effort to set aside an area to honor the state’s fallen law enforcement officers.
Lomax was born and grew up in Philadelphia but has island roots stemming from his father, who is part Hawaiian. He spent 27 years with the Pennsylvania State Police, retiring as a major heading the Bureau of Training and Education. He spent five years as executive director and CEO of the National Tactical Officers Association. Lomax has been a consultant for a number of years and recently began his own international consulting firm.
Lowery has been with the Arlington Police Department for more than 30 years and was promoted to deputy chief in 2014, when he began heading the South Arlington police district.
Aiu, Kendro, Lima, Lomax and Putzulu all have taught criminal justice classes at the collegiate level.
5 commissioners to choose new chief
The commission has seven seats, but only five commissioners will decide who will be chief. Luella Costales resigned abruptly Monday after voicing objections to the hiring process, specifically that the four people chosen by Jacobs to score the tests taken by 24 candidates did not reflect Honolulu’s demographic diversity. Marc Tilker resigned for personal reasons earlier this year, and Mayor Kirk Caldwell has not appointed a replacement.
The chief’s job pays $191,184 annually.
Kealoha retired at the end of February amid controversy. In December he was issued a target letter from federal officials informing him that he is a target in a federal investigation.
Jacobs is being paid $75,000 for its work.