As the Honolulu Police Commission launches a search for a new chief, the police union is pushing for the hire of someone from within the department – not the mainland.

Malcolm Lutu, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, made that clear to Honolulu City Council members during a committee meeting on Wednesday.

“I think we need to keep this local,” he said.

SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu speaks to a reporter at a SHOPO gathering held at the Capitol Rotunda. July 6, 2020
SHOPO President Malcolm Lutu and Mayor Rick Blangiardi have both expressed their desire to hire from within. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

He cited the scandal surrounding Kauai Police Chief Todd Raybuck, recently suspended for mocking Asian people.

“Kauai is going through their own problems and situations with their outside hire as a chief,” he said.

Raybuck came to Kauai after working about 27 years in the Las Vegas Police Department.

Lutu also indicated that he doesn’t believe Honolulu needs the type of police reform that is being demanded throughout the continental United States – a sentiment previously made by Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard that drew criticism.

“I think our climate is totally different from what’s happening on the mainland, and we’ve said that from the beginning,” Lutu said. “What’s necessarily happening on the mainland is not what we go through here in these islands.”

Mayor Rick Blangiardi, who SHOPO endorsed early on as a mayoral candidate, has also expressed his desire to hire a new chief from within HPD.

“I would want to cast as wide a net as possible, but my preference is to hire from within (the department),” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Commission is currently exploring its options for recruiting and hiring a new chief. Commissioners have not publicly expressed any preference regarding potential candidates’ affiliation with HPD.

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