Chief wants funds to keep police in line
HPD wants a new detail to police rogue officers
In response to a series of drug and gambling cases that nabbed Honolulu police officers in the past couple of years, Police Chief Boisse Correa wants to start a new unit aimed at nipping bad behavior in the bud.
Citing a similar unit formed in Los Angeles, Correa discussed the proposed creation of a "Quality Assurance Detail" in presenting his department's $189.5 million operating budget request for next fiscal year to the City Council's Budget Committee.
Correa also told the committee yesterday about future plans to create a 25-member Homeland Security Division and to carve out a new police district -- District 9 -- along the Waianae Coast.
Before former police officer Harold Cabbab began serving a 14-year federal prison term for drug charges, he told Police Chief Boisse Correa there might have been a way to prevent his behavior from spiraling out of control.
"He felt that if someone had caught him and disciplined him or told him, 'We're watching you,' it would've stopped him," Correa said. "It might have saved him."
The Honolulu Police Department's proposed $189.5 million operating budget for next fiscal year includes a request for seven positions -- a captain, lieutenant, four detectives and a senior auditor -- to create a new Quality Assurance Detail within the Internal Affairs Division.
This comes in response to recent federal gambling and drug cases in which Honolulu police officers were arrested.
"Like many big organizations, you need another unit checking the quality to ensure excellent service to the community and to identify and correct any kind of procedural or system failures that you may have or to ensure that you detect troubled employees and make sure that your employees are adhering to the highest professional standards," Correa told the City Council Budget Committee yesterday.
But some questioned whether the additional officer positions might be better served patrolling beats.
"What's the trade-off in putting four more people in quality assurance rather than putting them (on patrol) in Pearl City?" asked Councilman Gary Okino, who represents Pearl City.
"Let's say you have all the officers you want and you have a bad reputation," Correa responded. "It's very, very difficult to recuperate. That's what we're trying to prevent."
After the budget presentation, Correa said that the goal is not to target officers, but the unit could follow up, for example, on complaints that officers in a certain district were not using seat belts by monitoring officers' behavior and making recommendations for change.
"I want the integrity to be maintained. I do not want our officers to be sent off to the federal penitentiary," Correa said. "When they slip, we want to catch it early. If they have problems, we want to know about problems to prevent them from escalating to a different level."
Sgt. Stanley Aquino, chairman of the Oahu Chapter of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said the department has already begun discussions with the union over the new unit.
SHOPO's main concern is protecting the contract rights of officers should these quality assurance checks lead to discipline, Aquino said.
"If it's called for to check the integrity of the department in following policies and procedures, that's OK; but if they're targeting officers, that's a different story," Aquino said.
Aquino said he believes that the unit is redundant because Internal Affairs already has the ability to do what the new unit would be doing. "With better training by supervisors, we may not need this unit."
Correa also talked about future plans to expand the department, including eventually creating 25 positions in the next couple of years for a new Homeland Security Division that would assist the department in keeping keep up with federal homeland security mandates. The department, however, is looking to start with seven positions.
On another front, Correa said the department is making progress in moving toward creating a police district on the Waianae Coast. Next year's construction budget includes $405,000 for renovation of the Waianae police station with an eye toward making it the district command.