Police chief outlines goals; community survey to go live Feb. 1

  • Hawaii County Managing Director Lee Lord, left, swears in Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz in a public ceremony Friday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Chief Ben Moszkowicz outlines his priorities Friday at his public swearing in ceremony at the West Hawaii Civic Center. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

After a private swearing in ceremony Jan. 11 for Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz in Hilo, the new Hawaii County top cop took the oath again in a public affair Friday at the West Hawaii Civic Center.

Moszkowicz outlined his top five priorities after his swearing in by Managing Director Lee Lord in front of dignitaries and officers.


He said he would work on bolstering the department’s ranks through recruitment and using contract positions to bring young people in, hoping they would move into more permanent positions such as officers or dispatch. Moszkowicz, who officially took the helm Jan. 17, would also like to establish relationships with island schools to encourage more students to consider a career in law enforcement.

The chief’s second initiative is working to establish a deferred retirement program.

“I plan to refine and introduce a deferred retirement option plan I have been working on that will actually be budget neutral for the employee retirement system. In collaborating with lawmakers and neighbor island police and fire chiefs, state and county administrators, this plan would allow employees with enough years to retire to continue working and receiving a salary while they enter into a program that would allow them to accrue retirement benefits,” he said.

He explained once members exit the program, not only would they receive their own retirement benefits, but the retirement money accumulated during the program would be returned to them in a lump sum.

“The end goal here is to encourage employees who are nearing the end of their career to hang out for a just a few more years while the communities and departments benefit from their decades of experience,” he said.

Moszkowicz said he additionally plans on conducting a thorough review of the department’s general orders .

“The question I have gotten most in this past week is what are we going to do about promotions. It has been a hodge-podge of items put together but the issues of promotions, transfers and rotations is at the top of my list of general orders to review. My goal is to make it through every general order to make sure they reflect what we are doing in the department,” he said.

Fourth, Moszkowicz is going to begin work on standardizing training and documentation department wide.

“Starting next week, command staff is going to help us determine what kind of training is already going on in each district and division. These results are going to be combined to identify best practices for different subject matter areas,” he said.

All department employees will be surveyed to help focus on future training they feel is needed. He said starting in March standardized training throughout the department will be implemented. Some training will be done online, but Moszkowicz said hands-on tactical firearms and survival training will return in the first half of 2023.

Finally, the new chief said he wanted to encourage community outreach and input.

“At the very, very basic level, our job in the police department is to help the public feel safe. The only way we can gauge our success and identify improvement is to solicit feedback from the community,” he said.

He encouraged the public to take the annual community engagement survey that will come out Feb. 1.

“It is only through honest communication that we have any hope of continuing to improve our department,” Moszkowicz said.

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