A CHANGING OF THE CHIEF: Phillips Speaks About the Future of the Department
By Wendy Osher
Maui Police Chief Tom Phillips enters retirement today after a 33 year career. His immediate plans call for a vacation to Oregon this week to visit family and attend his nephew’s graduation. Before officially leaving his post, we caught up with Phillips who said the budget will remain one of the top priority items for the next administration.
“We don’t have enough money, so that’s going to the first order of business for him (new Police Chief Gary Yabuta) and his command staff. We’ll have to watch our spending like never before,” said Phillips.
Phillips also expressed concern about overtime saying, the extra cushion that the department had through vacancies is not guaranteed in the next year or so. “Our overtime budget will remain the same, but our costs will go up, and we’ve typically been about two million dollars over our overtime budget anyway,” said Phillips.
“I think the primary concern is going to be just like everywhere else-the Economy,” he said.
The Maui Police Commission selected Deputy Chief Gary Yabuta last month to be Phillips successor. Phillips spoke well of Yabuta and the preparedness of the department to move forward.
“That’s one of the reasons I felt like I could go. Our command staff is excellent, we have good commanders, good assistant chiefs. I think the hardest thing he’s going to have right now is finding a deputy because of the pay issue,” said Phillips.
“The guys that are qualified that I think he (Yabuta) wants, I think would have to take a really huge cut in pay, and I don’t think that’s fair. So, I hope they can work that out,” said Phillips.
“I feel really good about the department … and for Gary… he’s ready to be chief,” said Phillips.
“They’re going to move ahead like they never have before.”
Yabuta, a 27-year-police veteran, takes on the job of leading the 510 member department that includes 367 officers and 143 civilian employees.