The final phase of the search for a new Honolulu police chief begins at 2 p.m. today when the Honolulu Police Commission takes public testimony on its seven finalists. The meeting is at HPD Headquarters,
801 S. Beretania St., first-floor Conference Room A.
All seven finalists are veteran law enforcement officers, each with at least
25 years in the field. None appears to be closely associated with retired Chief Louis Kealoha, who left at the end of February amid controversy.
The following profiles are based on the finalists’ answers to Honolulu Star-Advertiser questions, short biographies released by the commission Tuesday and from other resources.
>> Thomas Aiu retired after 28 years with the Drug Enforcement Agency, which included a time when he headed the multi-agency
Operation Green Harvest effort to eradicate marijuana. He currently is director of corporate security for Hawaiian Airlines. He is also executive director for the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation.
Aiu said he believes his experiences with the DEA and the private sector give him “a certain skill set which allows me to work effectively with federal, state, and local law enforcement nationwide, and counterparts internationally, in an inclusive and collaborative way.”
To be more transparent, Aiu said he would hold quarterly community outreach meetings and talk with the media as well various community groups “on all aspects of HPD.”
>> Susan Ballard, current major, HPD Records Division, began her HPD career in 1985. She is the only finalist now wearing an HPD badge. A major since 2001, Ballard has also headed Windward and Kalihi district patrol divisions, as well as the training and finance divisions. She was among four finalists when Boisse Correa became chief in 2004.
Ballard said she has been outspoken “regarding the problems and concerns regarding ethical decisions that were made for the last seven years,” the span of
“There is a lack of trust of the leaders of the department both internally and externally,” she said. Training of officers needs to change “to move away from the warrior mentality and more to the guardian mentality.” Community trust begins with community policing, she said.
“HPD also needs to do a better job investigating cases where officers are involved,” Ballard said. “Too many officers that are fired for just reasons are returned to work and some officers that are fired should not have been.”
>> Kurt Kendro spent
30 years with HPD and is currently operations manager for Parsons Freeway Service Patrol, which operates under contract with the state Department of Transportation. As a major, he commanded the Kalihi and West Oahu patrol districts, as well as the traffic and records divisions. One of his strengths is his years of experience with patrol districts, the lifeblood of police work, he said.
Kendro said another strength is his community service, including heading the Law Enforcement Torch Run and serving as a board member of Special Olympics Hawaii.
He said his years as a
major helped hone his leadership abilities. “Strong leadership, the ability to make decisions, the ability to empower my subordinates to become leaders both formally and informally,” Kendro said.
There’s been poor morale and a lack of direction in the wake of Kealoha’s retirement earlier this year, he said. “We have to empower all of these officers and civilian employees so that they do a better job out there to deliver law enforcement services,” he said.
>> Kevin Lima also spent more than 30 years at HPD, and retired as assistant chief for HPD’s Investigation
Bureau shortly after Kealoha became chief in 2009. He previously led the Narcotics/Vice Division. Currently he is an adjunct faculty member with Hawaii Pacific University’s Criminal Justice Program.
Lima counted integrity as a key character trait. “Further, I believe in being inclusive, respectful and collaborative,” he said.
He contends his post-HPD work, particularly as an intelligence analyst for the Army, also strengthened his abilities to form partnerships and collaborate with other agencies.
Lima declined to provide detailed answers to questions dealing with what he’d do as chief, stating he doesn’t want fellow finalists to adopt his ideas.
>> Mark Lomax served with the Pennsylvania State Police Department for
27 years, including three as a major and director of the Bureau of Training and Education. Currently the chief executive officer of Lancer Cobbs, a Pennsylvania-based international business consulting firm, he was born and raised in Philadelphia. His grandfather was Native Hawaiian and is buried in Hauula, he said.
For six years Lomax was executive director and CEO of the nonprofit National Tactical Officers Association, which represented more than 40,000 members of the law enforcement special operations community. For a time he was program manager for United Nations Mission in Liberia.
Lomax said there is a lot right with HPD but that there is room for improvement. “As HPD Chief, I would open lines of communications with the community, external agencies, advocacy groups, neighborhood associations, and the media,” he said. “Transparency,
accountability, trustworthiness, and respect are areas that should always be at the forefront for all police agencies.”
>> James Lowery Jr. has been with the Arlington
Police Department in Texas for more than 30 years, and was promoted to deputy chief in 2014. Growing up in a military family, Lowery spent several of his teen years in Hawaii and graduated from Radford High School.
“Law enforcement is a service profession and any law enforcement agency garners its power from the community they serve,” Lowery said. “And you’ve gotta have trust in relationships. Failure to have that makes an agency (ineffective) and then it also erodes the community’s trust that it has with a police department.”
Asked what’s wrong with HPD, Lowery said the actions of “one or two bad apples” led to negative press that’s tainted the department. “If you’re not transparent with what’s going on and holding people accountable, you’re going to lose the trust of the community you serve,” he said.
Lowery said he also believes in “leveraging technology that allows our officers to act more efficiently (and) safely.”
>> Paul Putzulu was deputy chief, second-in-command to former chief Correa, and was acting chief when Kealoha was selected in 2009. A finalist for the job then, he retired months after Kealoha became chief. He also spent more than
30 years with HPD. Putzulu spent several years as an investigator with the state Attorney General’s Office and is now senior manager for corporate security at Hawaiian Telcom.
As a finalist in 2009, Putzulu won the endorsement of all three neighbor island chiefs, while Kealoha received the most letters in support.
Putzulu is on a trip to the mainland this week and could not be reached for comment.
Written testimony also is being accepted at email@example.com. The commission’s office address is 1060 Richards St., Honolulu, HI 96813, on the first floor of Alii Place. No deadline for submitting testimony has been announced, although commission Chairman Max Sword has stated he wants a new chief named by the end of the month. Closed-door interviews with the finalists are scheduled for the final week of the month.