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Friday, November 17, 2000

Big Isle police
chief hiring process
under fire

By Rod Thompson
Big Island correspondent

KAILUA-KONA - The Hawaii County Police Commission was to prepare questions today for use in interviewing candidates for the vacant post of police chief.

The fact that it will do so in a closed-door session is generating controversy when criticism already surrounds the police department because of a promotion cheating scandal.

Chief Wayne Carvalho lost a lawsuit last year in which he and others were accused by 19 officers of participating in cheating in the 1980s when he was deputy chief. Carvalho retained his post after the suit but retired last month.

The commission is taking applications for chief until Nov. 27. Selection of a chief will not come until next year, said commission Chairman Clarence Mills.

In the meantime, Commissioner Walter Moe disagreed with the plan to prepare questions in an executive session today and to limit eventual interviews to those questions and related ones.

"We keep on doing all the things that can be really taken apart by the public," Moe said.

Jack Brunton, who has a court case pending accusing the commission of holding unannounced committee meetings, said, "They have not established the public's trust."

But Commissioner Phoebe Lambeth, who chairs the committee deciding procedures to hire a new chief, said it is "almost mandatory" to limit interviews to standardized questions.

Any appearance of unfairness in questioning could result in lawsuits, she said.

Mills said candidates for chief should not know the questions in advance.

"I want to see how they think on their feet," he said.

The public is free to suggest additional questions to ask candidates, he said.

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