Chief planning cuts to staff, services


POSTED: Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Honolulu's new police chief announced yesterday some tough decisions: rejecting a popular work schedule proposal and planning to deal with possible budget cuts and furloughs.

Chief Louis Kealoha said he plans to shift resources to the Patrol Division—officers on the street who respond to 911 calls for service—and to criminal investigations and their follow-up.

He plans to “;scale down on some of our other services”; such as prevention, education, intervention and counseling programs, and will look for ways to be efficient and consolidate some services.

The Honolulu Police Department “;is being required to do more with less with a shrinking budget, but I can tell you that we are focused with keeping Honolulu the safest city in the nation to live in,”; said Kealoha, who called his first news conference since being sworn in the day before Thanksgiving.

Kealoha said budget restraints are the biggest challenge to him as chief, and said the department has been preparing for possible budget cuts of 5, 10 and 15 percent.

Kealoha said he is also planning to use uniformed officers to fill in for civilian HPD workers, who are members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and might be furloughed beginning in July. Of HPD's 500 civilian employees, 90 percent are HGEA members. They include clerical and secretarial staff members, criminalists, evidence specialists and those who work in police dispatch and information technology. The remaining 10 percent are members of United Public Workers.

;[Preview]  New Police Chief Talks About Future For HPD

Honolulu's new Police Cheif Louis Kealoha said budget constraints are going to be his biggest challenge.

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HGEA Deputy Director Nora Nomura said, “;It won't work for all of the positions at the Police Department. ... Some in more specialized jobs, be it IT (information technology) or a criminalist or evidence specialist—certain jobs require specialized training and experience.”;

Nomura added, “;I think it's smart for the police chief to think ahead of time,”; but said “;there are no easy answers,”; and increasing revenue by raising taxes rather than cutting employees and their services should have been considered.

Kealoha also took a firm stance on the popular 3/12 schedule, in which officers work three 12-hour days a week, and said, “;We're definitely staying with the 5/9 for now because it's more efficient and effective in terms of officer safety, in terms of the quality of service we're able to give the public.”;

The 5/9 was a compromise schedule in which officers work 44 hours in one week and 36 hours the following week.

State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers President Tenari Maafala said, “;That's the chief's prerogative and priority, and we respect his decisions.

“;He didn't say he was going to implement the 3/12,”; he noted. “;He said he was going to look at it.”;

The union president added, “;He's making some tough decisions.”;

Kealoha responded to a question regarding three incidents of police shooting unarmed suspects last month. He said, “;Three incidences in a month is a cause for concern,”; and will be asking his staff to look into the shootings to see where the department can improve in its training and policies.

Within his first 100 days, he would like to target graffiti, as well as crimes against children and seniors.