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Oahu's newest police chief almost ended up wearing Cleveland brown instead of Honolulu blue.
Yesterday, Correa was named the Honolulu Police Department's ninth police chief.
"I feel like I'm on a roller coaster, going from one extreme to the next," said Correa, 58. "I became a cop because I really like Hawaii and I care, and I thought I could make a difference when I was very young.
"I still feel I can make a difference."
The announcement of the new chief was delayed until the afternoon out of respect for officer Issac Veal, whose funeral services were held yesterday morning at Hawaiian Memorial Park in Kaneohe. Police Commission Chairman Ronald Taketa said the commission had hoped to move the announcement to "another day completely" but that it was "unavoidable."
Correa's replaces retired Police Chief Lee Donohue, who stepped down July 31 after 40 years on the force.
Correa, with 34 years on the force, had the most seniority among the four finalists for the post. The finalists also included acting Chief Glen Kajiyama, Maj. Susan Ballard and Maj. Donna Anderson. Ballard and Anderson and another female officer were the first women in HPD history to apply for the position.
Taketa said that all four finalists were qualified to become the next chief, but in the end there was a unanimous vote by the seven commissioners to select Correa.
"It was a real fight, a big discussion," said commission member Jimmy Borges. "Honestly, it didn't fall together until the very end."
Borges said key in selecting Correa was his experience in Micronesia, where he spent two years as the chief of public safety in the Truk District from 1977 to 1979. Correa and several other HPD officers were sent to Truk to help with public safety.
"He's already served as police chief in some capacity ... he aced all the oral tests, and he has the best comprehension of what it takes to be chief."
Originally there were 19 applicants for police chief this year. However, Police Commission officials said of that 19, three were eliminated, and another three were mainland applicants who did not come to Hawaii to take the written exam, leaving 13 applicants.
The list was then whittled down to nine after the exam. Those applicants participated in a series of exercises from an assessment team. Four final applicants were selected and had psychological exams and oral interviews. The process ended on Tuesday.
"I know to apply for a process like this is very straining," said Detective Alex Garcia, Oahu Chapter chairman for the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, or SHOPO. "But I'm sure it went well, because we had a good selection to choose from.
"Chief Correa and I have worked together in the past, and though we've sometimes agreed to disagree, he's working towards the same goal I am, to make HPD a better place."
Correa has worn many hats during his time with HPD, most recently as the department's homeland security liaison with federal law enforcement agencies. He has been an assistant chief since 1998.
During that time, Correa has been the point man for many high-profile challenges facing the HPD, including handling security for the Asian Development Bank meeting, the Miss Universe Pageant, the Pro Bowl and Y2K preparations.
Overall, he noted, he has "commanded, supervised or worked in every element in HPD except for the Finance and Records divisions."
Prior to his police career, the 1964 Kalani High School graduate played college football at Sacramento State College, where he earned a degree in police science and administration. He is not married and lives in the same Kuliouou area where he grew up.
Though Correa said he had to give back the signing bonus the Browns gave him, he maintains he made the right decision, even if he had not been named chief.
"I was going to be happy just being a sergeant," he said.
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