Honolulu police commissioners appear to be losing patience in their search for a new police chief to replace Louis Kealoha, who retired in January amid corruption allegations.

One of the biggest hang-ups has been the hiring of a consultant who will help the police commissioners evaluate the 34 candidates who submitted applications to the city.

The commission was in final contract negotiations with a potential consultant last month, but officials said talks disintegrated, although they did not specify the reasons.

Police Commissioner Loretta Sheehan listens as Executive Officer Dan Lawrence, left, explains why it has been so difficult to find a consultant to help select Honolulu’s next police chief. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

On Wednesday, the commission’s executive officer, Dan Lawrence told commissioners that he was again in the process of finalizing a contract with another consultant.

But he also said he was “not comfortable” providing a specific timeline for hiring a consultant, grading the candidates and selecting a new chief.

“There’s so much stuff that’s out of our control,” Lawrence said. “Once the consultant is engaged then the time frame becomes much more definite.”

Only three groups, all of them from the mainland, submitted proposals for the consulting job.

On Wednesday, Commission Chairman Max Sword revealed that the consultant that helped select Kealoha in 2009 was the top candidate that dropped out. He didn’t name the firm but it was the International Association of Chiefs of Police that worked on the previous chief selection.

Lawrence told the commissioners that many of the groups specializing in hiring police chiefs prefer to come in as executive search firms, meaning that they take part in the search for candidates.

He noted that headhunters also tend to charge more money for those services.

Commissioner Loretta Sheehan questioned whether the commission should have gone that route in the first place to seek out candidates who are “better suited for the job.”

But at this point it appears to be too late, considering the number of candidates who have applied and the fact the city is already in negotiations with a consultant.

The concern is that any more changes to the process would result in even more delays in selecting the city’s next chief, something that might not happen until September.

“Personally, I’m quite content with our game plan,” Commissioner Steven Levinson said. “I’m not terribly worried about the adequacy of the pool. I just want to get the show on the road.”

The police commission has already notified the chief candidates of the delay.

About the Author