Union survey of Maui police officers finds low morale and staffing crisis linked
The Maui police officers’s union commissioned a comprehensive survey in late April to better understand the issues and concerns officers are navigating with more than 100 officer vacancies. The survey found the staffing crisis may get even worse in the near future due to low morale and low pay.
More than one third of the current officers who responded to the survey are considering leaving the Maui Police Department within the next two years, according to the Maui Chapter of the State of Hawaiʻi Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO).
Of the 34% of respondents who said they were considering leaving the MPD within the next two years, 9% planned to retire, while 12% cited going to another agency and 13% were considering leaving the profession. Only 44% said they planned to remain with the agency for longer than two years, with another 22% checking an “other” category.
When asked if MPD had adequate staffing to swiftly respond to 9-1-1 calls, 64% said no, while only 20% answered yes. This response “is troubling,” according to a voice on a SHOPO Maui Chapter video about the survey results.
“These results should be a wake-up call to elected officials, the police commission and the Chief that the time to act is now if we are to preserve our crime-fighting capabilities,” SHOPO Maui Chapter Chair Nick Krau said in a press release.
The Maui Police Department responded to a request for comment about the survey by arranging for a news conference this morning with Police Chief John Pelletier.
The survey was for the 274 current members at the Maui Police Department at the rank of police officer, sergeant and lieutenant, with 158 members (58 percent) responding, according to the union.
The union also said it commissioned the survey to specifically address officer morale, equipment conditions, officer training, safety concerns and an initial assessment of Chief Pelletier, who had only been on the job about 4 1/2 months when the survey was conducted.
The survey found 62% of officers gave Chief Pelletier a negative rating on the leadership quality of “fostering strong morale” and only 22% said he was doing a good job in “building trust with front-line officers.”
When asked to rate the morale of MPD on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the highest, the average rating was 4.1. Only 13% of officers stated they felt the department cared about them personally.
The complete survey results can be viewed here.
“It’s clear that Maui officers are disillusioned with the current status of the Department,” Krau said. “This survey is a helpful tool so that their voices can be heard and also to identify areas needed for improvement. We have an opportunity to address this staffing and morale crisis to keep officers here.”
Krau added in a statement on the video that he hopes the survey will “encourage a collaborative dialogue based on an understanding of our collective challenges — a dialogue that focuses on finding solutions to improve the Maui Police Department. “