Honolulu Police Commissioner Michael Broderick said he won’t seek reappointment when his term runs out in December and is urging Mayor Rick Blangiardi to use the opportunity to diversify the commission.

Broderick, who was appointed to the position in August 2020 by former Mayor Kirk Caldwell, wrote in an op-ed published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday that he recently asked Blangiardi not to re-nominate him.

Advocates for police reform heralded Broderick’s decision as a victory. Some, including those at the HPC Taskforce, a police commission watchdog, have been urging the commission to increase diversity for months.

“To everyone who sent testimony to the City Council and Honolulu Police Commission, who signed petitions, and engaged each other in conversation about police and policing: this is a testament to the power of your voice,” Katherine Hernandez, a member of HPC Taskforce said. “Sometimes it can feel like no one in positions of power are paying attention, but Commissioner Broderick’s statement proves otherwise.”

Asked to talk more about his decision, Broderick told Civil Beat in a statement that he does not plan to comment any further.

“Our eyes are on the mayor now to look outside of his established networks, and to commit to a comprehensive search for someone who can bring the experiences of those who are over-criminalized and historically excluded from decision-making to the Honolulu Police Commission.”

Judge Michael Broderick Charter Commissioner at Honolulu Hale meeting.
Police Commissioner Michael Broderick announced that he will not be seeking reappointment at the end of his term in December. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

In the newspaper piece, Broderick said that he fully intended to ask the mayor to re-appoint him to a five-year term last summer, but has since had a change of heart after ruminating on the lack of Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian representation on the commission.

“I am a privileged, older, white male who views the world from a certain lens,” Broderick wrote. “At least from my perspective, the current commission, to different degrees, is made up of people who view the world from a similar lens.

Before Broderick was appointed to the commission, he was a family court judge from 2003 until 2010. He has also been serving as the president and CEO of YMCA Honolulu since 2010, but announced in late August that he planned to step down from his position at the end of the year to pursue his own business.

“When I was a Family Court judge, disadvantaged people appeared before me every day,” Broderick wrote. “And as the CEO for 10 years at the YMCA of Honolulu, we had many programs to help the most marginalized in our community. But I have never had ‘boots on the ground,’ working side by side, with our most disadvantaged. To my knowledge, neither have any of the other current police commissioners.”

Broderick noted that the police commission is currently made up of four attorneys — including himself, former Attorney General Doug Chin, current general counsel to the University of Hawaii Carrie Okinaga, and the chair of the commission, Shannon Alivado, who is the manager of government relations for Hawaiian Electric Co. The remaining three members, former communications executive Ann Botticelli, retired CEO of Aloha Petroleum Richard Parry, and hotel executive Jerry Gibson all “hold, or held, senior executive positions in the private sector,” Broderick added.

“I respect each of the commissioners,” Broderick wrote. “They are deeply committed to serving the public. But none of us works closely with the marginalized communities that police frequently interact with.”

The former judge said that he asked the mayor to replace him with a Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian, which he said will give marginalized communities a “real voice” on the commission.

“Moreover, the Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities make up approximately 10% of the state’s population, and as much as 26%, if you include people who are multiracial,” Broderick wrote. “Yet, there is not one Pacific Islander, or Native Hawaiian, on the commission.”

He also added that he was troubled by the disproportionate number of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who are arrested and subjected to use of force by police, which includes anything beyond “routine handcuffing” by the police department.

According to the latest HPD use of force report, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders represent 38.1% of total arrests and 34.5% of use of force incidents despite making up a quarter of Oahu’s population, according to U.S. Census data from July 2019.

Following Broderick’s announcement, Interim HPD Chief Rade Vanic said it was a pleasure working with the former judge and thanked him for his time on the commission.

“He brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the commission and took the job seriously,” Vanic said in a statement. “He supported the department while always keeping the community in mind. The HPD appreciates his service and wishes him the best.”

Broderick, citing his nearly 20-year friendship with Mayor Blangiardi and time as a member of the mayor’s core transition team, said “anybody who knows the mayor knows he is his own man. So I have no illusions that he will do what I ask. But he promised to at least consider it, and that’s all I can ask.”

In a statement, Mayor Blangiardi also thanked Broderick for his time on the commission and highlighted the difficulty of the unpaid position.

“Serving on the Honolulu Police Commission is a vitally important role for our community, which requires a significant amount of dedicated time and attention, and it is a volunteer position,” Blangiardi said. “Diversity is always an important factor to be considered, along with many other qualifying attributes we hope to see in the candidates. I take the responsibility of selecting the next commissioner extremely seriously and look forward to reviewing the qualifications of all those interested in serving on the police commission.”

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