Maui Police officer vacancies persist, recruitment expands to mainland
With more than a quarter of authorized officer positions vacant in Maui County, the Maui Police Department is deploying the use of QR codes and pursuing mainland recruitment in an effort to help.
100+ vacancies for sworn officers
Of the 400 authorized positions for sworn officers, there are currently 297 employed and 103 vacancies, which translates to 74% staffing. That’s up 14% from the 90 sworn vacancies reported in November 2021.
Out of the 146 authorized civilian positions, there are 103 employed, and 43 vacancies, which translates to 71% staffing.
Department wide, there are 146 vacancies, and the Maui Police Department is 73% staffed. This is down -2% from last month‘s report.
There are currently 12 eligible applicants in various stages of the hiring process for Police Officer I positions including one hire that begins on April 1, and another will begin June 1, according to Melissa Magonigle, business administrator with the MPD Administrative Services Bureau. Two individuals that are in the psychological phase have proceeded to the physical phase, and there are eight individuals in the background stage of the hiring process.
Recruiting begins in mainland ‘pockets’
As for recruiting, the department continues efforts across the state including participation in job fairs on Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. The chief, who previously served in Las Vegas, has also extended recruiting efforts there, saying the department reached well over 2,000 people at an event at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and plans to conduct similar efforts in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon in July.
“We’re going to do everything we can to recruit locally, of course, but we need to realize that we’re going to need to go outside,” said Chief Pelletier saying the vast majority (about 80%) of recruiting will be in Maui County, “but we will go specifically where we know there’s deep pockets of folks from the state.”
“I think sometimes folks–when they say ‘Why did we go out there?’–well, there’s more Hawaiian population in southern Nevada than in this County, so why would you not go and try to do everything we can to go after those who maybe didn’t realize that they have a career opportunity that’s waiting for them here.”
Commisisioner Stacey Moniz said she’s glad that recruitment has extended to Las Vegas. “I think going to Las Vegas is a great idea. I think that there may be a lot of Maui people living there now that might want to come home if they could have a job that was paid well,” she said.
QR codes make access easy
Earlier this month, the department rolled out it’s QR codes, which when scanned on a phone camera or mobile device, take applicants directly to the government jobs website where a job description, benefits, and salary information are laid out, along with a link to apply on the spot.
There are currently nine different job descriptions listed including:
- Police Officer I: $5,471 monthly
- Police Intelligence Research Analyst: $5,178 monthly
- Emergency Services Dispatch Coordinator: $3,708 monthly
- Park Security Officer I: $3,295 monthly
- Public Safety Aide: $3,167 monthly
- Police Cadet: non-civil service, $15 hourly
- School Crossing Guard: $14 hourly
- Motor Pool Attendant: $14 hourly
Maui Police Chief John Pelletier approaches 100 days on the job next week, after being sworn in on Dec. 15, 2021. He provided department highlights during the regular meeting of the Maui Police Commission Wednesday.
In his report, Chief Pelletier called domestic violence and theft from vehicles the “two biggest crime issues,” the department is dealing with right now.
Crimes against persons are up 7% year to date, including a 27% increase in aggravated assaults with domestic violence leading that sector. At the same time, property crime is down -3%, with theft from vehicles at about a 50% increase so far this year, according to preliminary data provided by Chief Pelletier during Wednesday’s regularly scheduled Police Commission meeting.
The chief also discussed highlights relating to crime and traffic.
He said a search warrant was carried out on March 8, with police recovering over 1,000 grams of crystal methamphetamine and $18,000 in US currency.
Just last week, the Traffic Division carried out screening of 240 vehicles and arrested eight individuals for Operating a Vehicle while Under the Influence. This came ahead the St. Patrick’s Day enforcement campaign that began on Thursday, March 17, 2022, and continues this weekend.
In regards to training and education, Chief Pelletier, said the police academy is adding crisis intervention training.
“We want to make sure that we’re always striving to be students–if you will–not just through our careers, but through our lifetime. While I’ve go folks here for their careers, we’re going to do everything to provide leadership, training, and continued training,” he said.
“We’re making it mandatory as a recruit, and we want to make sure that we offer it to in-service [personnel]… This helps with de-escalation… It helps with building bridges of trust and transparency… This helps us do the best that we can to deal with those in mental crisis,” said Chief Pelletier.
According to the chief, the Department has received 180 calls year-to-date from those suffering from mental crisis. “So why would we not want to arm our officers with tools, because the most effective tool they have is their mind, and their ability to communicate,” he said.
Commissioner Emmett Rodrigues asked about Community Policing efforts and what, if any changes have been enacted.
“In each of the districts you have community policing officers, but as I had mentioned before, being down now 103 officers, there’s certain things we had to fold from being centralized,” said Chief Pelletier. “So your CRS (Community Relations Section) as well as your Gambling and Morals [officers]–[they] were sent back into patrol, but our community policing officers are still very much in patrol… Our core group, which has been doing the vast majority of your homeless outreach and some of the other training to the community, it is in full existence and continues to do outreach to the unhoused as well as to others each week.”
Commissioner Travis Tancayo, expressed concerns with recent news reports that featured interviews with several recently retired high-ranking officers, notably an assignment of one of the individuals to Moloka’i prior to their departure.
The commission was advised that it has the ability to hire and fire the chief, and evaluate him; but cannot tell him how to operate the department. The Deputy Corporation Counsel noted that the item was not on the agenda, and discussion was brought to a close.
Terry Jones remembered: “Long shadow of loss”
During Wednesday’s meeting, both the police chief and commissioners reflected upon the loss of the Chief’s Executive Secretary, Terry Jones, who was killed in a motor vehicle crash on Feb. 24, 2022, while pursuing a suspect who reportedly stole her purse.
“It’s still very difficult, but the chaplains on this department, the peer support team–not just within this agency, [but also] within the county–there is so many incredible people that came together to support the department and continue to do so,” said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier during a Commission meeting on Wednesday.
In addition to her three decades of service with the MPD, Jones was also involved with many fundraisers and benefits including the Maui Police Relief Association, Special Olympics, Relay for Life and the Annual Troy Barboza Torch Run.
“We had a Tip-a-Cop event over the weekend for Special Olympics, which Terry was the biggest promoter on. When I asked her to take the job back in October, the first conversation we had [was] ‘What do you think about Special Olympics and the Torch Run?’ and I couldn’t help but support it. This year it’s definitely going to have a long shadow with her loss there,” said Chief Pelletier.
The Tip-a-Cop event raised $4,000 for the athletes of Special Olympics.
“We hope her family and loved ones will find solace in this time of grief and loss. Terry made tremendous contributions to the community in her 32 year career at the Maui Police Department. Of course no words will ever do justice to the impact she has made on the Department and the community, but we will continue to hold Terry and her family in our thoughts and prayers,” said Commission Chair Frank De Rego.
A celebration of life is planned on Saturday, March 26, at the Wailuku Community Center, with visitation from 12 to 3:30 p.m. and a ceremony to follow from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Visitation will conclude at 7 p.m.