Mayor Rick Blangiardi is nominating former mainland police officer Larry Ignas to the Honolulu Police Commission, the mayor announced on Hawaii Public Radio on Monday.

The mayor said he had sought to put a retired police officer on the commission, which oversees the Honolulu Police Department, investigates complaints and will hire the next police chief.

“Larry Ignas has a really great background,” he said. “He spent 20 years with the East Chicago (Indiana) Police Department, has been living in Hawaii for over 25 years, (is a) highly regarded person in this community, and we’ll see where that goes.”

He added: “If we could have somebody who could bring that experience and that empathy, if you will, to the commission, it would be a great perspective.”

The Honolulu Police Commission is made up of seven members. It currently has one open seat. Christina Jedra/Civil Beat/2021

Reached by phone on Tuesday evening, Ignas said he wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Ignas, 77, was the founding owner of Star Protection Agency and United Security Alarms, according to a resume he submitted in 2018 to the Legislature during his confirmation to the Hawaii Motor Vehicle Industry Licensing Board.

At the time, he said he was the general manager of the Alakea Corporate Tower.

He has also been involved in Republican politics, according to a Honolulu Star-Bulletin clipping from the early 2000s that reported his involvement with the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Ignas was a police officer in East Chicago, Indiana, in the 1970s and 1980s, according to newspaper archives from that time.

Clippings show he was injured on the job while trying to apprehend a suspect in 1971 and that he was suspended for 28 days in 1983 after he “wrecked a squad car while on duty,” according to The Times newspaper in Munster, Indiana. The paper didn’t describe the incident in much detail other than to say officials said Ignas “used poor judgment.”

This is Blangiardi’s second attempt to fill the police commission’s empty seat. His prior pick, former Honolulu officer Benjamin Mahi, backed out following concerns that his past employment with HPD and his relationship with a current officer would pose a conflict of interest.

On Monday, Catherine Cruz, host of “The Conversation” on HPR, asked the mayor about calls to nominate someone to the commission from an underrepresented ethnic background.

Earlier this month, following HPD’s shooting of a 16-year-old Micronesian boy, Rep. Sonny Ganaden wrote the mayor a letter urging him to choose someone from the Micronesian community to help promote “a healthy relationship between government and a local underserved community.”

And the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has pushed for commission members who “won’t have conflicts of interest, who will increase transparent scrutiny of HPD, and who will accept that racial disparities in policing is an issue of utmost importance.”

Blangiardi said the race of potential nominees was not a consideration for him.

“I’m not looking to bring in somebody from any ethnic group, necessarily,” Blangiardi said. “It’s the very best person.”

Blangiardi has not yet submitted paperwork on Ignas’s nomination to the Honolulu City Council, which has the power to confirm or reject him.

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