Thursday, January 15, 2009


JUST GIVE US THE MONEY AND NO ONE GETS HURT: One bill we didn’t discuss this week is a money bill, #2296, that was up for public hearing at Wednesday’s council meeting through which the Kaua`i Police Department (KPD) is asking for $85,000 for recruiting new officers.

KPD hasn’t had it’s full complement of sworn officer for decades and is currently reportedly about 24 officer short.

The much discussed “morale” problem at KPD apparently persists as evidenced by the chronic shortage. Despite a new chief and some cosmetic changes the number of openings for sworn public safety officers has more than doubled from the 10 or 11 at the time Chief KC Lum was forced out and Chief Darryl Perry took over, according to numbers reported to the police commission and council..

Why the $85,000- $65,000 for consultant services and $20,000 for advertising- wasn’t in KPD’s 2008-9 budget is anyone’s guess. But if current recruitment tools are any indication of the value of past appropriations and chances for future success, the $85,000 may as well be flushed down the toilet.

Coincidentally, the day before the public hearing a PNN and “got windmills?” reader sent us a link to a ad that reads as follows:


Job Summary
Honolulu, HI 96819

Even the title of the page calls for "Kaua`i Police Officer job in Honolulu 96819"

Imagine the surprise of the mainland, police-veteran applicant when he or she applies, gets the job, buys a house and moves to Honolulu and shows up for duty only to find his job is on a different island. While we might think to ourselves “who doesn’t know that Kaua`i is one island and Honolulu is on another” the answer is “most people on the mainland”.

The listing, which does not contain the phrase “island of Kaua`i”- although it does list the address correctly as being in Lihu`e- lists the salary and some of the benefits

It says

If you:- Are at least 21 years old - Possess a High School diploma or G.E.D. - Have a current driver's license - Are eligible to carry/possess a firearm
And are ready: To be a role model and provide a safer Kauai for all
Benefits Include:- Starting salary: $3,000 a month, or $21.92 an hour
- Salary after 1 year: $4,188 a month, or $24.16 an hour
- Standards-of-conduct pay: additional $1.00 an hour (effective July 1, 2008)
- Additional pay for night hours and special assignments
- 6% yearly salary increase
- Excellent health plan, including prescription drug and dental coverage
- Paid vacation and sick leave
- Comprehensive retirement plan: Vested after 10 years of service
- No retirement penalties at 55 years of age,or 25 years of service regardless of age
- Opportunity for specialized training and advancement

But apparently knows something KPD itself doesn’t know because the listing at the KPD web site’s recruitment page says:

The starting base pay for Police Services Officers is:
$3,585 a month ($20.68 an hour)
After 1-yr of probation, officers are paid:
$3,727 a month ($22.79 an hour) after probation
Police Officers also receive:
6% a year pay raise and approximately 4% step movements every 3rd year.
Differential Pay (paid in addition to the base salary):
Standards of conduct: $.80 an hour ($125 month)
Night differential: $.55 an hour ($88 month)
Other differentials vary: 5%-25% of base hourly rate

Apparently KPD is too short staffed to keep their web site up to date with the higher pay numbers but not to busy to draw up a money bill and send at least one KPD brass to no less than four council meetings to shepherd the bill though.

But the issues relating to recruitment at KPD go way beyond the lack of funds or even mere ineptitude at the job of finding and hiring new officers.

They go to keeping the ones that they have now, in light of the morale problem and the “slow progress” toward cleaning up the few rogue elements on the force as alleged in various Kaua`i based web sites and blogs and described as similarly deliberate by the chief himself. They go to issues raised in Anthony Sommer’s book KPD Blue many of which remain unresolved and even unaddressed by Chief Perry.

The bill will again be on the agenda next Wed., Jan. 21 at the council’s Pubic Safety Committee meeting

Glenn Mickens’ testimony yesterday puts it in stark terms and better than we could and we’ll leave you with what he said.

Testimony of Glenn Mickens on Bill 2296, 1/14/09

The purpose of this bill appears to be the recruitment of more police officers. Since I understand that we are bout 24 officers short on our force, I certainly have no problem with doing whatever is necessary to get added police.

However, before throwing $85 thousand at the problem I would hope that the use of these funds will be scrutinized and justified.

Under our former Chief, K.C. Lum, we were about 10 or 11 officers under full hire. Since he was wrongly forced to retire this number has doubled to about 24. So it appears that the problem with having enough officers is more than one of recruitment.

There appears to be a morale problem with our force that is causing good officers to quit, retire or find better employment elsewhere. From what I read and heard, we are hiring new recruits BUT, as the numbers indicate, we are losing more than we are hiring and the deficit grows.

Certainly filling vacant police positions on Kauai has problems other than morale. Cost of living, finding an affordable place to rent, buying a home, or deciding if a salary of about $40 thousand is enough to survive on.

However, I understand that the Big Island and Maui have their police positions filled and since SHOPO sets salaries for the entire state, pay is not the biggest problem.

Personally, I believe that any person who becomes a police officer and puts their life on the line each time they pull a vehicle over or respond to a domestic violence call should earn a lot more than 40 or 50 thousand dollars for what they do. This is probably a hiring restriction too.

So, the suggestions I have to help solve this hiring problem are:

1) Forget spending big bucks ($85 thousand) on consultants and advertising. Unless we lower our cost of living on Kauai and/or SHOPO increases the pay scale, all the advertising in the world will not help.

2) The morale problem is an internal one and only the Chief and his subordinates can solve it.

3) One possible hiring aid may be to offer a per month rental incentive to prospective hires AND, to make it equitable. to all other officers on the force.With this huge economic downturn it may be hard to go after a rental incentive. The same goes for SHOPO and realistically our cost of living is only going to go north.

So, it appears that the only real solution to this problem is solve the morale issue and that is for the new Chief to address.


Note: Starting today and for the next two weeks we will be without our copy editor. Please excuse any errors in grammar continuity. punctuation etc.

No comments: