As a police officer for 25 years, I can honestly say the local media has failed to realize the true nature and depth of the morale problem within the Honolulu Police Department.
HPD rank-and-file members are a dedicated breed of men and women who can adapt, improvise and overcome any obstacles — even obstacles from within their own department.
A mere change in work hours, as proposed by the new police chief, Boisse Correa, does not in itself cause this low morale problem, nor does the low, non-competitive wages police are paid. Rather it is a combination of poor leadership and a lack of trust and appreciation that eats away at the officers.
As a recent survey by the police union of its members showed,
police officers feel Correa is lacking in communication skills, fairness and support, with two-thirds of the police officers who took the survey saying they are dissatisfied with his leadership.
“When officers were asked whether they wish they had a different chief, 78.3 percent said ‘always’ or ‘almost always,’ ” the ”’Honolulu Star-Bulletin”’ reports.
In my career, I have served under five police Chiefs and to my knowledge no prior Chief has ever been disrespected or mistrusted by their own peers in the police administration — that is not the case under Chief Correa. Even those working closely with the chief have tagged him as Chief Chaos.
These are some of the reasons:
*One of the first acts by this Chief, a well-connected Democrat, was to compromise the integrity of the Honolulu Police Department by attempting remove the lead investigator from the political “Pay for Play” investigations. He ordered then Major Daniel Hanagami to drop all investigations of politicians (also all Democrats) and their contributors. That was during the time when Hanagami was on the trail of then Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, who had received more than $1.5 million in illegal political contributions from businesses that wanted to obtain city permits, zoning changes and contracts. Harris, of course, appointed the police commissioners who appointed Correa.
*Almost immediately after being appointed, the new police chief told the media that he planned to ban any type of video or audio recording devises from all police press conferences.
*Police also were upset when he started issuing overly harsh vindictive punishment (in the guise of discipline) against his critics or members of the rank-and-file police department who dared question his mismanagement.
*The new chief also ignored agreements made between the previous administration and the Union, stating these agreements are not binding to him. He continues to violate or simply ignore existing Collective Bargaining Agreements. This Chief has a history of being anti-Union, even as a rank-and-file member he was one of the most outspoken, pro-administration, anti-Union advocates.
*Chief Correa started reassigning officers from understaffed rural Districts and placing them in overstaffed, over-manned areas with less crime, but more politically powerful and affluent residents.
*So far when challenged, Chief Correa refuses to accept responsibility for his short-comings and instead, redirects the fault to others or fabricates excuses for his actions.