KPD beefing up recruitment efforts

The Kauai Police Department is stepping up recruitment efforts in the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1.

This fiscal year, which began last July 1, the department spent just $127.50 of each recruitment budget of $47,965.

Administrative and Technical Bureau Acting Assistant Chief Lt. Miles Tanabe said that funds had to be redirected toward training because the department’s recruitment plan is incomplete.

“We were looking at marketing we could do without funds,” Tanabe told the Kauai Police Commission.

Victor Punua stood in for commission chairman Stanton Pa, who was off island, leading the meeting held yesterday in the council chambers at the historic Kauai County Building.

Punua said that perhaps the lack of advertisements or other recruitment efforts was a reason why the KPD is short on officers.

Current plans call for student volunteers at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School to produce television ads slated to be aired beginning in mid-July. Radio and newspaper ads are also in the works.

“We need to be more aggressive and spend some proactive money to get the applicants we want,” Police Chief George Freitas told the commission.

Again, one question that remains is the time it takes for an applicant to have the required background check, polygraph test and psychological exams completed before the person is either hired or completes the police training academy. Currently, applicants must wait for 4-8 months from completing an application before being able to do the entrance exam.

The county Personnel Services Department has forwarded three lists of possible candidates to the KPD. In the first group, seven candidates are scheduled to start training in August. Of the first group, there may be some who are hired as full-time officers. In the second group, background checks are almost halfway completed. Personnel Services also forwarded a third list of 25 names which haven’t been vetted.

Tanabe acknowledged the problems with the process: People may not pass the test; just one full-time staffer is tasked with completing background checks; and scheduling appointments for polygraph examiners, physicians and psychologists is also difficult. “We not only do background (checks) and recruiting, we also do the training and that means there’s less resources to do the background investigations,” Tanabe said.

“Our challenge is going to be to deal with the pipeline when personnel gets more efficient and gives us all the names,” Freitas said. He also said that he is in talks with the Finance Department and Purchasing Division to see if retired law enforcement officers could be paid on a per-case basis to complete the background checks of potential recruits.

“I’m not talking about stopping recruitment, but if we show the ads and tell people to apply, but if it’s a year before you get the interview, no one in their right mind will hold out that long,” said Commissioner Michael Ching.

Testing is soon to be administered four times a year, instead of once as is now being done. The Personnel Services Department has already pledged to administer the test quarterly and twice on Oahu in an effort to shorten the wait for possible recruits.

Recently, Sgt. Ezra Kanoho attended a recruitment seminar in Washington that discussed recruitment strategies that employ information technology and mass media advertising. Also, since the KPD is now able to recruit outside of Hawaii, the department has posted an ad on a national law enforcement Web site, and plans to continue with other such recruitment marketing in national law enforcement publications.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at mailto:kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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