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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Schedule change puts police on duty 5 days a week

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

More than half of all Honolulu police officers soon will be working five days a week up from the current three-day-a-week schedule in an effort to increase officer contact with the community and streamline investigations, Police Chief Boisse Correa said.

The schedule change will affect the 1,100 officers currently working three 12-hour shifts per week, Correa said, adding that many of those officers will have difficulty keeping "side jobs" that subsidize their police salary. The new week will be five, eight-hour days.

The "3-12" schedule, which includes an extra 12-hour shift each month to balance out a 40-hour workweek, was created as a recruitment tool and a morale booster in 1997 and was key to attracting people into the department during a time when more than 100 officers began leaving for better paying jobs in the Pacific Northwest.

In announcing the change, which takes affect at the end of June, Correa said it will be difficult for officers who must work extra jobs. Police officer pay in Honolulu isn't comparable to many Mainland jurisdictions, Correa said. The starting pay for an officer in Honolulu is $37,000, he said, compared with $70,000 in San Jose, Calif.

"It is going to be difficult," he said. "Some officers work three to four side jobs just to make ends meet and that's not fair. It's not the schedule that is going to benefit officers. You have to give them money and benefits."

Correa said he did not anticipate the schedule change would be popular with officers.

The state police officers union yesterday said the change is not about improving law enforcement but about saving money. Union officials, however, could not explain how the schedule would save the city money.

Tenari Maafala, president of the State of Hawai'i Organization of Police Officers, said the decision was made because the city deemed the 3-12 system "too costly" in terms of officer pay and increased sick leave. He agreed with Correa that front-line patrol officers who work more than one job will be adversely affected. He could not say how the change would save the department money, however.

Correa said the change was not about saving money, saying he believes it will amount to a financial "wash."

Maafala said the schedule change and officer compensation will be key issues as SHOPO starts negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the city next month. The current contract expires in 2007.

"Unfortunately, it's come to this but I guess the ultimate factor is the cost," Maafala said. "I can see where the city and the administration is coming from in terms of being fiscally responsible in the best interest of everybody. Hopefully somehow they can compensate our officers."

Correa, speaking at a news conference and flanked by his deputy chiefs and district commanders, said the decision was unanimous among his commanders.

The "5-8" work schedule will expose patrol officers to their commanders and the community more regularly, he said. The new schedule also will help keep investigations moving since the gap between the time a case is initiated at the patrol level and the investigation begins will be tighter.

Also, with patrol officers on duty more days each week, it is easier for detectives working on investigations to contact them.

Bill Brennan, spokesman for Mayor Mufi Hannemann's office, said the schedule change was solely Correa's call.

"The mayor doesn't manage or micromanage the Police Department," he said. "The chief feels this is what he needs to do to maximize the productivity of the department."

The 1,100 officers and employees affected by the change comprise the department's entire patrol division, central receiving division and communications division.

Correa said he had a hand in creating the "3-12" pilot program in 1997 that eventually spread from downtown to encompass the Kalihi district before being implemented departmentwide. At the time, he said, the ranks of patrol officers at HPD were considered the "dumping ground of the department."

"We needed a mechanism that would motivate patrol," he said.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.