Police ecstatic over contract
Union, police and county officials hailed the arbitrator-set pay raises for police officers in Hawaii yesterday as a step in the right direction toward recruiting and retaining more qualified officers.
"That will definitely motivate officers," said Tenari Maafala, Honolulu Police Department officer and board president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa agreed.
"This will get us closer to parity with other jurisdictions throughout the nation," he said.
Maafala said police officers in Hawaii earn 22 percent to 23 percent less than counterparts on the West Coast.
With annual 6 percent increases for four years, as spelled out in the arbitrator's award announced yesterday, police officers' pay will be 26 percent higher at the end of the contract.
Officer's pay on the mainland is also expected to increase.
"I think given where we are today to where we were two or three years ago, it's a heck of a lot better," said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
Other provisions in the contract also help.
Officers will continue to get pay raises as they reach the next-higher step in years of service.
Those with at least 25 years of service will get an additional 4.3 percent raise in the first year of the contract, thanks to the creation of a new step. Right now, officers reach their highest salary in a particular pay grade after 22 years of service.
Correa said HPD retains only 3 percent to 4 percent of officers with at least 25 years of service.
In addition, the starting salary for recruits will increase to a little more than $42,000 per year from approximately $38,000, Maafala said. By the end of the contract, starting pay for a recruit will be more than $52,000.
In January the monthly allowance for officers who use their own cars for work will go up to $600 for patrol officers and $562 for detectives and those in special units. The current allowance is $488 and $530, respectively.
Officers will receive a 20-cent-per-hour boost in their differential pay -- in recognition that police cannot take certain part-time jobs because of their standards of conduct -- in the second year of the contract. They also won reinstatement of their $720 annual uniform and firearm allowance in the third year.
Maafala said the majority of the comments he has received from officers about the contract have been positive.
Officer Bryson Ponce, SHOPO Kauai Chapter chairman, said Kauai police officers he has talked to are really happy with the award.
"You hear comments like 'unprecedented,' 'great job,'" Ponce said.