The Honolulu Police Commission may soon welcome its newest member, pending approval from the City Council.

Kenneth Silva, who previously served as the city’s fire chief, was nominated by Mayor Rick Blangiardi to become the seventh member of the police commission earlier this month.

He is now in the running to fill the lone vacancy on the seven-member commission after former commissioner Michael Broderick announced that he would not be seeking reappointment in November. Broderick urged Blangiardi to diversify the commission which currently has no Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian representation.

“I do think I fit that bill,” Silva said. “I went to Kamehameha Schools. I’m from a local family. My grandmother was pure Hawaiian. I was raised in a Hawaiian household and I think I have an understanding of many different races here and I think those things are helpful when we’re working and trying to manage in a local environment.”

Kenneth Silva
Former Honolulu Fire Chief Kenneth Silva has been nominated to join the Honolulu Police Commission. Hawaii News Now

Silva, who is Blangiardi’s fourth nominee for a seat on the commission, was the head of the Honolulu Fire Department from February 2006 until December 2012, concluding a 31-year career with the department.

Silva, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Hawaii, then joined the Hawaii State Chapter of the American Red Cross as chief operating officer, a position he held for 11 months starting in January 2013.

In November 2013, Silva left Red Cross to become the executive pastor of New Hope Oahu where he worked until 2019.

Silva then spent more than two years enjoying his retirement until a friend asked if he was interested in joining the police commission.

“I had thought about it,” Silva said. “I prayed on it and said I would be interested and then it was brought to the mayor’s attention.”

In a statement, Blangiardi told Civil Beat that he nominated Silva because of his “high integrity” and “outstanding character,” citing Silva’s work with the fire department.

“In his role as chief he resolved concerns and issues at fire stations in every community on Oahu and he knows, first-hand, the disparate needs and priorities of our residents and neighborhoods,” Blangiardi said. “Ken is highly respected for his many outstanding contributions to our community over the course of his career and is especially recognized for being an exceptional leader with a keen sense of social equity.”

If confirmed, Silva said he plans to bring stability and open-mindedness to a commission currently tasked with choosing the city’s next police chief, a process that is now in its seventh month.

“I think that getting an agency head that’s qualified that fits in well with our communities is imperative,” he said. “And I think working well with the other commissioners and understanding what points of view they have is going to be important. I like to say I have a vested interest in our community.”

The City Council is set to vote on Silva’s nomination to the commission on Wednesday, the same day the commission is set to convene for its second meeting of the year.

“I look forward to Mr. Silva joining the Commission as it will be valuable to have him part of the Chief Selection process from the beginning once the finalists are presented,” Honolulu Police Commission Chair Shannon Alivado told Civil Beat in a statement.

She said she doesn’t know him personally. But his background as a first responder and his role as an administrator of a major city department is promising, she said.

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