West Hawaii Today, Tuesday, May 2, 2006
New officers hit the streets
by Betsy Tranquilli
West Hawaii Today
Shortage still a problem
Kona patrol is closer to operating at full strength with the addition of seven new police officers Monday. But as officers continue transferring out of Kona or retiring, West Hawaii districts aren't reaping the full benefits of the larger recruiting classes of recent months -- 25 percent of Kona positions are still vacant.
Kona patrol received seven of the 17 recruit graduates, in addition to eight graduates that started work in February. The group spent more than six months in academic and physical training, beginning in July, before finally getting on the road Monday. The officers, who are on probation for their initial 18 months on the job, spent their first day doing ride-along orientations with seasoned patrol officers and got to work covering their assigned beats.
"Administratively, it's a lot more work because we have to do evaluations more frequently and (new officers) require a lot more supervision," Kona Patrol Capt. Paul Kealoha said. "But at the same time, we're ending up with more people out there, which is what we need."
Despite the influx of new officers in recent months, the loss of four patrol officers to transfers only leaves Kona with a net gain of three officers. Still, any gain is positive after the department has been struggling islandwide to fill positions for several years.
"We're losing four really good officers to transfers," Kealoha said. "But we were really blessed with that last class of new recruits that came (in February) ... They've progressed very rapidly and have done very well for us."
As of Monday, there were still 34 sworn positions vacant islandwide, down from 50 actual vacancies just three months ago, according to police manpower records.
In Kona, field vacancies include two lieutenants, one sergeant, four community police officers, nine patrol officers of 45 sworn positions and one patrol officer in the cell block. There are also four Kona patrol officers on extended leave, including one for military service.
Administratively, the West Hawaii Criminal Investigation Division has one lieutenant and one detective vacancy, while the West Hawaii Juvenile Aid Section is short one detective and Vice is down one detective, one patrol officer and another detective is out on extended leave.
Even with three recruit classes in session simultaneously for the first time in department history, the department is struggling to keep up with added positions approved by the County Council in 2004, including 10 patrol positions in Kona, in addition to other shortages.
"Our vacancy numbers have dropped significantly, but we're still trying to fill positions created by the council in 2004," Administrative Services Major Paul Ferreira said. "Almost all our districts are operating at or below minimum levels. Smaller districts like North Kohala, North Hilo and Ka'u are below minimum level, so our concern is really islandwide now."
The Ka'u district, which has seen rapid population growth over the last decade, has two vacancies in the Community Policing division and one vacancy of 11 sworn patrol positions, with another patrol officer out on military leave. The district is also short a lieutenant position, which is being filled temporarily by a South Kohala captain.
"While Ka'u doesn't have the population of Kona or Hilo, it's the area that they have to cover that makes it difficult" on short staff, Ferreira said.
Still, there is more hope on the horizon as Monday marked the beginning of the 68th Police Recruit Class of 11 future officers. They will be ready for assignment in February.
Another 17 officers are in their third month of academic training and should be ready to join the ranks this summer.
By the numbers
Police vacancies in West Hawaii as of Monday
- Kona district: 22 vacancies of 87 positions
- North Kohala: 2 vacancies of 12 positions
- South Kohala: 4 vacancies out of 27 positions
- Ka'u: 3 vacancies out of 13 positions
Find out more
- Applications for police recruitment can be found at http://www.hawaii-county.com/civil_serv/civ_serv.htm.
- Applications also are available at 101 Pauahi Street in Hilo or at Hanama Place in Kailua-Kona.
West Hawaii Today, Thursday, January 15, 2004
Mayor's plans for fire, police
By KAREN IWAMOTO/ West Hawaii Today
The county has hatched plans for new headquarters for fire and police in Puna and in South Kona.
Mayor Harry Kim said he would like to have sites for the stations selected by the end of the year. The Police Department and Fire Department have made emergency service upgrades to both districts a priority, he added.
Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna noted the shortage of police manpower in South Kona.
"Right now we're utilizing the Kealakehe station to staff South Kona," he said. "We need another fully staffed station to cut down on the response time to callers and also for back - up for officers.
"If we don't look into that we'd be remiss," he added.
Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira did not return telephone calls Wednesday to West Hawaii Today.
Kim said he is looking to house the police and fire stations under one roof at each location, thereby reducing construction costs.
The Shipman Estate already has agreed to donate land for a combined fire station and police station in Keaau and another private landowner has agreed to donate land in Pahoa for another police station should the need arise later, Kim said.
But a site for a combined police and fire station in South Kona has yet to be found.
"If you're looking at just cost alone then it may be best to just renovate the stations there," Kim said, referring to the police and fire stations in Captain Cook. "But if you take into consideration other factors, like where the greatest need is or possibility of growth, then maybe not."
Mahuna, however, said renovating the Captain Cook Police Station would be too expensive and would not allow for enough space.
The Captain Cook Police Station was formerly the main police station in Kona but is now being used as a sub - station. Kona police now are headquartered at the Kealakehe station.
Currently, two police officers per shift cover the area between the Honalo Junction and Manukai Park. If more manpower is needed, officers patrolling North Kona are dispatched to help.
The need for more police officers in South Kona has long been acknowledged. Former Mayor Stephen Yamashiro said he would make increasing the police force in South Kona and refurbishing the Captain Cook Police Station a priority, but no action was taken.
However, even if police and fire officials do find an adequate site in South Kona, Kim said, plans to construct any new stations must first go before the County Council for approval.
West Hawaii Today, Sunday, December 21, 2003
Six police officers retiring
By TIFFANY EDWARDS/ West Hawaii Today
HILO - Six mostly high - ranking police officers are expected to retire at the end of the year after 25 to 32 years with the Hawaii County Police Department. Three of them are based on the west side of the island.
Capt. Julian Shiroma, Lt. Henry Hickman and Lt. Glen Nojiri have given the police department notice, along with Maj. David Kawauchi, Lt. Edwin Tanaka and Officer Warren Shaw based on the east side, Deputy Chief Harry Kubojiri announced Friday.
Shiroma has been with the department 25 years, and currently commands the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) for North Kohala, South Kohala and Ka'u. CID comprises Juvenile Aid Services, Vice and the Criminal Investigations Section (CIS).
Hickman, also with 25 years, heads CIS and Nojiri, with 27 years and 11 months, oversees the patrol division based in Kona.
Kawauchi, with 32 years and four months, will vacate leadership of the operations bureau for Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo, and Puna.
Tanaka, with 27 years and 10 months, will leave command of the records division based in Hilo, and Shaw, with 25 years, will no longer be the DARE coordinator.
Kubojiri said the upcoming vacancies will mean 31 for the Police Department. Without the men's departure, the department is without 16 officers and nine support staff. That's not counting the 20 officers who are expected to come out of recruit class.
Also, islandwide there are 13 officers and five support staff who are on extended sick or injury leave - one has been out for six months.
Kubojiri told Hawaii County Police Commissioners Friday that the department will take a couple of months to replace the police managers; they will used a "merit - based promotional system." With the exception of the DARE coordinator, or "police officer - three," which requires a written exam, those interested in the rank positions will be subject to an interview with a selected panel of police administrators.
West Hawaii Today, Sunday, December 21, 2003
Police chief gets good grade
By TIFFANY EDWARDS/ West Hawaii Today
HILO - Police Chief Lawrence Mahuna has ranked above average in Hawaii County Police Commissioners' one - year evaluation.
Commissioners filled out their own evaluations and provided Mahuna with a combined evaluation.
They released the three - page document at their meeting Friday after Chairman Horace Hara read a portion of commissioners' comment to Mahuna.
Commissioners have recommended that Mahuna set benchmarks for himself as he works toward fulfilling objectives for the department. They noted he has a "participative management style" and that he maximizes the use of the Police Department's limited resources.
They also noted his willingness to open up the doors of the Police Department, and his own office.
"Chief Mahuna has been willing to review general orders and other department policies which require clarity or change and is receptive to suggestions by the commission and public. He is visible to the departmental personnel and in media/community meetings," commissioners wrote.
The evaluation will be placed in Mahuna's personnel file.
Out a 1 - 5 rating scale, commissioners rated Mahuna between 3.9 and 4.9, which was for demonstrating "a sincere effort to encourage line personnel, staff and commission feedback as appropriate."
The next highest, 4.8, was for regularly involving police employees in a "systematic approach to problem solving."
Mahuna was rated for planning, organizing and setting priorities; problem solving/decision making; communication skills; finance/budget; and leadership/supervision.
Commissioners at first weren't going to release the evaluation Friday but were entitled to after they read from it, according to Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida.
Asked by a reporter to comment on their own evaluation of the police chief, at least two commissioners, Dwight Manago and Paul DeSilva, were careful to tread on "personnel" matters and declined.
"It's a fine line. We have to make sure we're not overstepping the bounds," Manago said.
Mahuna is on the mainland with his family for the holidays, and was not at the meeting to discuss the evaluation.
Deputy Chief Harry Kubojiri issued a statement saying the chief wanted commissioners to know he didn't deserve any favorable recognition for this year's accomplishments, it belonged to all the Police Department's 523 employees.
"Since his appointment, Chief Mahuna required members of the department be community oriented, believe and practice the philosophy of a 'customer based' business, placing the community first," Kubojiri wrote.
"In carrying this out, he wanted all members of the department to know that they have a voice in making this a better department through a 'team concept' approach."
He noted the team concept wasn't readily accepted by all police employees in the past year, and "some found this attitude of participatory management a little suspect."
Kubojiri maintained that "all reservations soon dissipated" and dedicated and committed police employees helped the police chief achieve his goals.
"Chief Mahuna wanted me to convey his appreciation to the men and women of the police department and to thank them for his annual job performance report rating to which he can accept no credit, as it is a direct reflection of their hard work and commitment," Kubojiri wrote.
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