The controversy on overtime pay at the KauaÔi Police Department shifted briefly onto members of the departmentÕs vice squad recently, and gave the appearance that the squadÕs officers do not have enough work to do.
Department officers racked up $322,000 in overtime pay in the fiscal year ended June 30 of this year. A suggestion made by County Councilman Mel Rapozo last month to use three vice officers to do patrol work to cut down on overtime was shot down.
A vice officer who did not want to be identified because of the undercover work he does, said last week that drug enforcement is not a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday job.
ÒI donÕt think you can do drug enforcement in eight hours,Ó he said.
Additionally, the source said that police are on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
He said that reports need to be written, evidence has to be processed, and court appearances have to be made. That sometimes leads up to unavoidable overtime.
ÒProsecutors and police donÕt work at the same time,Ó he said. ÒThe work is endless. We could work 24/7 and thereÕd still be the problem.Ó
Between July 2004 and June 2005, officers of the vice squad seized 22 vehicles, $184,616 in cash, busted one methamphetamine lab, and carried out 100 search warrants.
Additionally, the squadÕs members seized 17 firearms, and made 259 arrests.
In the same time period, 8,183 marijuana plants, 12,160.71 grams of marijuana, 258 grams of cocaine, and 109.3 grams of heroin were seized.
Also in the same time period, members of the skeleton squad Ñ just seven officers though authorized to have as many as 15, with a maximum of 11 officers assigned to vice in the fiscal year ended June 30 Ñ began 20 cases that each were punishable with a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. And thatÕs on top of the 82 cases that each were punishable with a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
There were also the 91 cases that each were punishable with up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The vice officers also seized 1,660.70 grams of methamphetamine.
The drug busts took drugs with a street value way in excess of the controversial KPD overtime amount off the street, representing Òa good rate of return to the community,Ó said the officer.
He said that information about drug activities is flowing smoothly between squad members and the community.
ÒIn the past, that didnÕt happen. ThatÕs an indication that we have a rapport with the community,Ó he said.
He said that the free-flow of information has been fantastic. ÒWe truly appreciate their calls,Ó and their support, he said of members of the community.
ÒWe feel there is a feeling of trust, and we appreciate that trust,Ó he said. ÒWe hope thatÕs an indication of concern, trust and support. Members of the community want to make sure itÕs a safe community.Ó
He said that the squad members try to make a difference in the community.
ÒWe hope thatÕs what the community wants,Ó said the officer.
Yes, the squadÕs officers are responsible for some of the overtime pay given to officers, he said. ÒIn-depth drug investigations take time,Ó he said.
ÒThey are a motivated, Òdedicated bunch of guys trying to make a difference,Ó and have sacrificed lots of personal and family time in order to do a good job, he said of his fellow vice officers.
ÒThe community wants drug enforcement. WeÕve tried really had to make a difference, and we hope thatÕs what the community wants,Ó the veteran officer said.
- ÊCynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or email@example.com