Police Commission begins to evaluate candidates for police chief

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The Hawai‘i County Police Commission has begun the process of evaluating the 21 applicants still in the running for the chief of police.

The commission met via Zoom Thursday afternoon in a special meeting, of which two hours was spent in a closed executive session to discuss the hiring of a police department employee “where matters affecting privacy will be involved.”

When the commission returned to open session at about 4:30 p.m., Commissioner Rick Robinson made a motion to “schedule another meeting for the purpose of interviewing other applicants via Zoom.”

The body ultimately decided not to schedule another special meeting but continue the process during its next scheduled meeting on Nov. 18.


Big Island Now reached out to the Police Commission secretary Charisse Correa to clarify what exactly occurred in the executive session and if commissioners were interviewing police chief candidates.

“The use of the term ‘interview’ was incorrectly used by a commissioner,” Correa stated. “We are currently not in the interview process yet. The commission is still evaluating applicants. The commission will conduct all interviews in open session.”

Correa didn’t clarify the difference between evaluating and interviewing the candidates or if the commission now had the names of the applicants.


Up to this point, the commission said the candidates only have been identified by numbers to ensure an unbiased hiring process.

Paul Ferreira retired as Hawai’i County’s police chief on Sept. 1. Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado Jr. is serving as interim chief while the Commission works to fill the position. During the commission’s last meeting on Oct. 21, the pool of 44 applicants for chief was whittled down to 21.

The special meeting started with public testimony from a handful of individuals expressing their requirements for a qualified police chief candidate.


One testifier stated he wanted the new chief to be unvaccinated from COVID-19. They all expressed frustrations with how the police department handled the pandemic and enforcing what they say were unconstitutional laws in relation to COVID mandates such as the lockdown, mask wearing and vaccinations. The testifiers all noted the new chief needed to be well-versed in the U.S. Constitution.

“We do appreciate your testimony and engaging with us in navigating this very important decision,” Commission Chair John Bertsch said. “We’re gonna try and make you proud and get you the best chief we possibly can.”

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