Who's the top cop?


POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Honolulu Police Commission could select a new police chief Wednesday.

“;Hopefully, when we reconvene on Wednesday we should be able to have a better idea of where we are,”; said commission Chairwoman Christine Camp yesterday after a public hearing on the six remaining candidates to become Honolulu's next top cop.

“;This is not a popularity contest,”; Camp said before public testimony began. She said the hearing was a chance for people to comment on the experience, qualifications and character of the candidates, not a time for answering questions.

The commission was blasted about the hiring process after two candidates were added to a short list created by a selection committee. Two committee members resigned last week after the decision was made.

; Four candidates are longtime veterans of the HPD: Capt. Louis Kealoha, acting Chief Paul Putzulu, Assistant Chief Debora Tandal and Assistant Chief Delbert Tatsuyama. Tandal and Tatsuyama were the last two candidates to be added.

Two finalists are from the mainland: Commander Gary Yamashiroya of the Chicago Police Department and Commander Harry Markley of the Phoenix Police Department.

At the hearing, seven people testified, and more than 100 written testimonies were counted.

“;The reason I'm here is to support the candidate Debbie Tandal,”; said Albert Silva, a Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board member who added that Tandal is a strong community person.

Robert Bolson, a retired HPD detective, said Putzulu has “;vision over the department now and where it should be going.”;

Tenari Maafala, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, asked the commission to choose one of the local candidates.

Most of the written testimony was in support of Kealoha, citing his 26 years with the department and his native Hawaiian background.

Police chiefs of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island all sent in testimony supporting Putzulu.

The commission will interview the six candidates Monday and Tuesday. When making a decision, they will consider public comments, the candidates' scores during the application process, their qualifications and their vision for the department, Camp said.

Camp said the commission wanted the best candidates and that all six of 26 that applied have made it this far on their own.

She said the selection process may have been criticized, but the commission did not break any rules.

“;If there truly was a favored candidate, the commission could have just hired that person,”; she said. “;We didn't do that.”;

;[Preview]  HPD Commission hears from the public

The Police Commission held a meeting to hear public testimony in the already controversial selection process for Hawaii's next police chief.

Watch ]