Chief concern


POSTED: Monday, June 01, 2009

When the Honolulu Salary Commission met in February to consider raises for top city officials, Police Chief Boisse Correa told the commission that his $136,236 salary would eventually need to be raised by more than 10 percent to make the job attractive for the next police chief.





        A comparison of Honolulu, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., police chief salaries:

Honolulu Police Department
        Chief's salary: $136,236
        Officers: 1,978
        Population: 905,034


San Diego Police Department
        Chief's salary: $176,456*
        Officers: 2,100
        Population: 1.27 million


San Jose Police Department
        Chief's salary: $249,976
        Officers: 1,300
        Population: 939,899


San Francisco Police Department
        Chief's salary: $287,000
        Officers: 2,375
        Population: 799,185


*2007 salary information




But Correa, like other city administrators, did not ask for a raise this year because of the budget situation.

Now, as the Honolulu Police Commission searches for a new police chief, it appears the relatively low pay for the city's top law enforcement job will likely limit applications, especially from large mainland cities.

“;I believe that the lower salary will have an impact and dissuade some very qualified people from applying,”; Correa said Friday in an e-mail. “;Although no one joins the police department to get rich, we have to financially provide for our families and ourselves just like everyone else.”;

The Honolulu Police Commission will meet Wednesday to discuss the process for selecting a new chief. But Chairwoman Christine Camp said a higher salary for the chief will not be on the agenda.

“;This is not the time for us to be asking for an increase in salary for the position,”; Camp said. “;It (the salary) was enough to attract the chief the last time around.”;

Camp said the commission might look at raising the salary if there is a low response to the job opening.

Increasing the chief's salary, however, is not an easy process and would likely take some time.

The salary is set by the Salary Commission, which has already recommended to the City Council, based on Correa's testimony in February, that the chief not be given a raise.

“;The only thing we can do is reject the recommendation,”; said Council Chairman Todd Apo. “;From a timing standpoint I'm not sure how that would work.”;

Tenari Maafala, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said he believes the chief's salary should be comparable to leaders of similar departments.

But he said salary “;shouldn't be the first and foremost motivation for any candidate to want to be chief of police.”;

“;I think it (salary) will have a major effect,”; said Bob Murray, of Bob Murray and Associates, an executive search firm that is helping the San Francisco Police Commission find a new chief. Murray said the low salary will rule out applicants from police departments in major cities on the mainland.

More than half of 273 police chiefs in California who responded to a survey last month reported making more than $150,000 a year, said Leslie McGill, executive director of the California Police Chiefs Association.

“;A lot of captains in a lot of agencies in California make $150,000 or higher,”; she said.

Murray noted that there are other factors besides salary that can attract or limit candidates.

He said outside applicants want to know whether there is an internal candidate being considered or whether the search “;is just being done for show.”;

The economy is also a factor, he said, whether the budget is sustainable and whether a new chief might have to cut and lay off people.

The search for the San Francisco police chief has taken about four months so far. Fifty people applied, Murray said, but only a few were qualified to run a major police department.