KAILUA-KONA — Assessors with a national accreditation organization gave the Hawaii Police Department a positive report with some suggestions during a mock assessment in April.
During a Hawaii County Police Commission meeting Friday at the West Hawaii Civic Center, Deputy Chief Kenneth Bugado reported on the site visits conducted by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., also known as CALEA.
Bugado told commissioners two assessors came on April 15 and visited all district stations. They spent a lot of time interviewing personnel, specifically about their job and their positions. Assessors also interviewed everyone at the administrative bureau in Hilo.
“When the assessors come and check out your department, they check on certain areas they know departments have to focus more on to increase their efficiency and productivity,” Bugado explained. “Those areas include: Evidence procedures, training, and use of force policies.”
Police departments across the country have gone through the CALEA assessment that provides credentialing authority through joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations: International Association of Chiefs of Police; National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; National Sheriffs’ Association; and Police Executive Research Reform.
The CALEA Accreditation program seals are reserved for use by those public safety agencies that have demonstrated compliance with CALEA Standards and have been awarded CALEA Accreditation by the Commission. CALEA’s program seals are billed as the “Marks of Professional Excellence” for today’s public safety agencies and reflect the gold standard benchmark associated with CALEA. Departments go through the program voluntarily.
The Hawaii Police Department was first accredited in 2012 and recertified in 2015. Bugado said requirements then changed and recertification moved from every three years to every four years.
“The second year was a little more difficult (than the first),” said Police Chief Paul Ferreira. “We expect this year to be worse because we should be knowing what we’re doing already.”
The police department did receive a positive report from assessors. However, Bugado added they did, as expected, make certain recommendations.
“One thing they picked up right away is we have an incredible amount of vehicles that we store in our evidence storage,” he said. “We have warehouses overflowing with inventory that we are holding for the prosecutor’s office.”
Bugado said the department has already taken steps to try and get some space in their warehouses. If they are unable to do that, they will have to acquire more warehouse space for vehicles recovered in the future.
About 67 vehicles are in police custody. Bugado added the department already knew that it was an issue. A lot of the vehicles are connected to cases pending trial.
“We’ve got some that’s been sitting there for 20 years. So, that’s a big project for us,” Bugado said.
The deputy chief said there has been correspondence with the prosecutor’s office in getting some case reviews done so space can be opened up.
“Other than that, it was a positive report,” he said. “Looking forward to assessment in August.”
Ferreira said the evidence issue has been brought up before in a past assessment, as well as the lack of supervisory positions.
At the police commission in January, officials told commissioners the proposed police department budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year is $69.309 million. A supplemental budget was also provided to the county that added another $4.2 million.
The supplemental budget requested funding for nine sergeant positions and two lieutenants, which would cost approximately $3 million. The newly created positions include one sergeant in Hilo, two in North Kohala, two in South Kohala, one lieutenant in Puna, two sergeants and one lieutenant in Ka‘u, one sergeant in Hamakua and one sergeant in Kona.
On Friday, Thomas said the proposed police budget was slightly increased to about $72.1 million. The increase comes on the heels of the latest proposed budget by Mayor Harry Kim to the Hawaii County Council.
“The mayor gave us two more patrolman positions over what had been slated previously — mainly to deal with homelessness issues being dealt with in Kona and Hilo,” Thomas said.
In all, Kim’s proposed $584 million budget calls for 93 new county employees, more than 40 of which will be new officers.
When the CALEA assessors come in August, Ferreira said, all files needed for review in the accreditation will be filed electronically and the assessors will be strictly doing field work and holding public hearings. After that, CALEA will determine whether to recertify the department.
Dates for those hearings will be scheduled as the assessment gets closer.
“As you know, I think CALEA is super important,” said commissioner John Bertsch. “We need to put our best foot forward. They’re national standards that I think we need to hold ourselves to.”