I woke up at 5 this morning, drank coffee, finished some notes and headed out to testify on the Mayor’s budget. Of course I was a day late, so after reminiscing with another guy who had also thought Tuesday, I’m sending out some thoughts while they are fresh in mind.
I’ll try to summarize, and am rounding off numbers and mostly going by the actual costs of 2013-14 because we don’t know the actual costs of this current fiscal year. I believe the totality of the mayor’s budget is less than 6% increase from the previous year. Right away I find several conflicts, mainly the projected increase of employee pensions and contributions rises from $56.5M (13-14) to 87.2M in 2017-18. That alone is an average of 6.14M a year, more than 6% increase.
Add to that the police budget from 121.3M in 2014-15 to 134.1M in 15-16. That is a 12.7M increase in one year. It is explained in the letter accompanying the budget as mostly an increase in subsidized vehicle insurance, buying 100 mobile data terminals (cell phones?) and replacing 100 guns.
I looked into the written goals of the police department: to protect life and property, involve the community in crime prevention, gather evidence to solve crimes, return stolen property, aid in prosecutions and at the bottom of the list are enforce traffic laws and other.
Then I noticed further goals for the different departments, and the actual completion rates for these goals. I was horrified, and I did mention it in my testimony last month, that the Hawaii County Police Department only has goals of 30% in solving Burglaries and Thefts, 60% Robbery and 80% Sexual Assaults? I’m not sure what the goal of solving murders is, but I saw where they responded to 3 murders, and are giving evidence on 1 to the prosecution. That seems about 33% to me.
As I dug further I was wondering why they are not able to solve more crimes? After all, we hear it is the same people in many subdivision thefts, and we hear about the same crack houses operating for years at a time in the same location, how hard can some of it be?
Well, I think I figured something out. First off, there are only like 3 criminalists and 37 detectives, while there are 306 patrol officers. And our Federal and State governments ensure that those 306 patrol officers are busy overtime performing revenue generating, seat-belt checks, DUI checks, cell phone stings, and so forth. Don’t tell me they don’t have quotas. The police received 16 grants this year, 9 of them are for traffic revenue compliance operations totaling almost $550K. Additionally there were 3 grants for crimes against women for $150K, 1 Tobacco/eCig sting grant of $8K, 1 grant for Meth operations $125K, 1 grant for State Narcotics Task Force of $125K to eradicate 60,000 pot plants which is supposed to be taken of the budget as it is a mistake, and 1 Justice System Grant for technical equipment and training which perhaps will not happen now that Obama declared a stop to militarizing the police.
I notice that there were supposed to be a number of hard drug investigations initiated, as well as attendance at some hard drug conventions, which were not attended. There seem to be no grants forthcoming and no money to be made solving actual crimes, but plenty to be made by extorting the drivers in Hawaii County, and forfeiture of real property if the opportunity presents itself.
I think it would be nice if the County Council would decline those traffic related revenue grants, and instead have the police follow their stated goals, and see if we can actually solve more real crime in line with their stated intent.