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Hearing today on police chief selection to draw officers' ire over perceived taint


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POSTED: Friday, November 13, 2009

The Honolulu Police Commission's public hearing today is expected to draw a crowd due to controversy over the selection process for police chief.

State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers Honolulu Chapter Chairman Stanley Aquino said some officers disagree with the addition of two names to the list of four finalists.

“;They're upset,”; he said. “;They really would hope that it will be limited to the four and move on and get a chief selected.”;

But the commission will not back down from its decision to review six candidates for police chief, two of whom were added after the four top finalists were chosen by a selection committee picked by the commission.

Two selection committee members William “;Buzzy”; Hong and Ron Taketa, resigned Nov. 5, the day after the names were added.

The commission will hear testimony at 2:15 p.m. today about the six finalists at the police main station's Juvenile Services Conference Room.

“;We stand by our decision to review six candidates who, in their own right, were ranked at the top half of the candidates,”; said Christine Camp, commission chairwoman.

The commission and the mayor, who appointed the commissioners, have come under fire from the because two candidates, Assistant Chief Debora Tandal and Assistant Chief Delbert Tatsuyama, were added to a list of four finalists.

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The committee originally forwarded the names of HPD acting Chief Paul Putzulu, HPD Capt. Louis Kealoha, Phoenix Police Department Commander Harry Markley and Chicago Police Department Commander Gary Yamashiroya.

Camp said the commission did not know the next two names on the list of finalists based on their scores, nor did it know all the four finalists' names.

“;We can't believe the politics involved,”; said Alex Garcia, a former SHOPO Honolulu chairman. “;Ever since the first of the year, we've been hearing the mayor wants a female chief. ... To reach down like that, it makes it very suspicious.”;

Tandal, the only woman on the list, was one of the two names added to the finalists.

Camp said that the commission requested two more names in order to have a broader pool.

Garcia is calling for the commissioners to step down and have an independent panel select the best-qualified person.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who was traveling in Asia and returned yesterday, did not respond to requests for comment.

Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz has called for a special Public Safety & Services Committee meeting at 3 p.m. Monday to get to the bottom of the controversy.

But Camp said the commission is scheduled to interview the candidates Monday afternoon and is asking Dela Cruz to change the hearing time.