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Police Commission to Begin Process ‘as Soon as Possible’ in Finding New HPD Chief

June 21, 2022, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated June 21, 7:12 AM
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HPD Chief Paul Ferreira (PC: HPD website)

The Hawai‘i County Police Commission is making steps to undergo the process to find a new chief following Chief Paul Ferreira’s announcement to retire before the end of the year.

Commission chairperson John Bertsch told Big Island Now on Monday evening he is going to try and initiate that process as soon as possible. One of the first steps, he explained, is to have a meeting with Human Resources.

“I’m looking forward to going through the process,” Bertsch said, adding the commission will go through recruitment to establish basic qualifications for the position.

“All commissioners will weigh in,” he said.

HPD is not involved in the selection process of the next chief.

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When asked if the search for a new HPD chief search would extend outside the state, Bertsch said he thinks they have a lot of great candidates on the Big Island, even around the state.

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The commission has the sole authority to hire the new police chief and doesn’t need confirmation from the Hawai‘i County Council.

When the commission does have a list of finalists, Bertsch said he invites all members of the public to come and testify on the candidates.

“I think it’s going to be super important to have a transparent hiring process,” Bertsch said.

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Ferreira informed the commission he would be retiring on Sept. 1, 2022, during a commission meeting in Hilo on Friday, June 17. Bertsch said the commission has been happy with the chief’s performance, especially over the past few years.

“Paul has done a fantastic job in leading the county these last few years in a pandemic,” he said. “With so many rule changes and empowering police officers and maintain a strong force I applaud him for getting us through that.”

Bertsch added he wished Ferreira all the best of luck.

“Forty years of service in the police department is a really admirable feat,” Bertsch said. “To start as patrol officer and work your way up through the ranks takes a tremendous amount of support from not only your family but your fellow officers.”

Big Island Now reached out to Mayor Mitch Roth regarding news of Ferreira’s retirement. Roth provided the following statement:

“Having worked alongside Chief Ferreira as both a prosecutor and the Mayor, I can say wholeheartedly that he will be missed by his fellow officers, his county colleagues, and our community in his well-deserved and hard-earned retirement. That said, we have complete faith in our Hawaiʻi Police Department moving forward and know that the police commission will do a great job of selecting replacement leadership founded on the same values of honor, integrity, and respect that the department has become known for under Paul’s leadership. We have the best officers in the State, if not the world, and we thank them for their dedicated service to the health and safety of our community.”

Ferreira joined the department in July 1982 starting his career as a patrol officer and subsequently as a detective. He then held several positions in the Administrative Bureau, including assistant chief, and was named deputy chief by Chief Harry Kubojiri in December 2008.

Ferreira served as deputy chief until December 2016, when he was selected by the Police Commission to serve as police chief.

Ferreira announced his retirement to staff in an internal memo that was provided to Big Island Now.

The chief states in the memo that it’s been an honor and privilege to serve as police chief since December 2016 “in what I know to be the finest police department in the nation, primarily because it is staffed with you, the finest men and women in Hawai‘i.”

Big Island Now reached out to Ferreira for comment who declined giving interviews at this time.

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