Assistant Chief Rade Vanic will be the interim chief of the Honolulu Police Department as of June 1 when Chief Susan Ballard retires, the Honolulu Police Commission announced after a unanimous vote on Wednesday evening.

Vanic has been a public face for the department at Police Commission and City Council meetings. That’s one reason the commission chose him, said Chair Shannon Alivado.

“We saw that he had leadership skills that were exemplified not only before the Commission but before Council hearings,” Alivado said.

Honolulu Police Assistant Chief Rade Vanic has been with HPD for over two decades. Screenshot: Honolulu Police Commission

In over two decades with HPD, Vanic has served in every bureau of the department, Alivado said. He’s currently the support services bureau assistant chief. Previously, he managed the Professional Standards Office, was a district patrol commander and oversaw administrative operations within the chief’s office.

“With those qualifications, the commission as a whole saw that (he) would be the perfect interim chief to name during this period as we go through the chief selection process,” Alivado said.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Vanic said the department is fortunate to have an experienced team of leaders.

“I look forward to working with the Police Commission and our officers to serve the public in the best way possible,” he said.

The commission made the decision behind closed doors but made the announcement in open session.

In choosing Vanic, the commission is bucking a tradition in which a deputy chief is typically chosen to lead the department in the chief’s absence.

HPD has two deputy chiefs: John McCarthy and Aaron Takasaki-Young. McCarthy has been out on medical leave for weeks, and Takasaki-Young will be voluntarily returning to the rank of major at the central receiving desk this month, according to multiple department sources.

Ballard announced her retirement last month after receiving a tough performance evaluation from the commission, which provides oversight to the department and has the power to hire and fire police chiefs. Commissioners took issue with what they felt was a lack of transparency and accountability in her leadership.

Also on Wednesday, the commission discussed its plans for hiring the next permanent police chief. Alivado said she would send a job description and vacancy announcement to the Department of Human Resources for publication “as soon as possible.”

The hiring decision is up to the current six members as well as a potential seventh member to be appointed by Mayor Rick Blangiardi. The mayor has indicated his intention to nominate a former mainland police officer named Larry Ignas, although he has not yet submitted paperwork to that effect to the Honolulu City Council.

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