While new MPD chief could be getting a large raise, some think he should prove his worth

The Maui County Police Commission has unanimously approved recommending a big pay raise for new Police Chief John Pelletier.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 9:24 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2022 at 2:14 PM HST
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WAILUKU, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Maui County Police Commission has unanimously approved recommending a big pay raise for new Police Chief John Pelletier.

It’s an even larger increase than what he was asking for.

Currently, Pelletier is paid $158,851 a year, down from the $171,000 he made in Nevada. He took a pay cut when he left as a captain in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to become police chief last Dec. 15.

Pelletier told the commission he believed his salary should be $195,000 — a 23% raise.

“I haven’t worked an eight-hour day yet. I don’t know what an eight-hour day is yet. I don’t think that a police chief will ever work an eight-hour day,” Pelletier told the commission during its online meeting Wednesday.

Pelletier also said because he’s not paid overtime, it also means a lower hourly wage.

“If I’m working approximately 60 hours a week, which is basically average right now, I’m making what a lieutenant on the department makes,” he told commissioners. “They won’t get coverage under the SHOPO contract, but depending on when they (were) promoted and different things, that’s the salary that they have.”

Meanwhile, two of his assistant chiefs, who aren’t appointed by the county, are paid more than him and his deputy chief, Charles Lee Hank III.

County documents show that one assistant chief makes $167,400, while another is paid $166,920.

“When your people that are below you are making more than the leader, it sets up a funky dynamic, and I can’t imagine how that is,” said commission member Stacy Moniz.

Maui County’s police chief is the second-highest paid in the state, behind Honolulu’s $205,800, followed by Hawaii and Kauai counties.

In response to Pelletier request, police commissioners not only agreed that he should get a raise, they believe he’s worth even more.

“I think we need to go above that $195,000. I just don’t think that’s high enough. I would go, like, $205,000,” said commission member Bobbie Patnode.

In an email, County Council member Mike Molina said, “The Maui Police Commission’s announcement of increasing the salary of the Police Chief did come as a surprise. In my opinion, timing wise, it would have been better for the commission to have made this announcement to the public last year prior to selecting a new chief.”

Molina also asked the Salary Commission to defer any decision for at least a year to review the police commission’s annual evalation of the chief, as well as to provide the public time to comment.

“The chief took the job knowing what the salary was,” said former county council candidate Claire Carroll of Hana. She believes Pelletier should prove his worth before asking for more money.

“I would appreciate if the commission would give him at least six months before giving him any pay raises,” she added.

But Pelletier has the support of the police commission members.

“The harder you work, it should be the more you get. And in this particular case, he’s working very hard and doing a lot of things that we wanted him to do,” said commission member Mark Redeker.

The recommendation now goes to the county Salary Commission, which will make the final decision. Its next scheduled meeting is Feb. 11.

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