Recent SHOPO survey reveals ‘sinking’ morale in MPD since new chief takes office

While many officers are thinking about leaving, the new chief is pushing to fill vacant positions.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 6:27 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 14, 2022 at 8:20 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Maui Police Department may be heading into a deeper staffing crisis.

That’s according to a recent SHOPO survey taken by Maui police officers.

The results were staggering.

“The ship is sinking and we’re all on it,” said SHOPO Maui Chapter Chair Sgt. Nick Krau.

SHOPO said it surveyed its members because they felt things were heading south since John Pelletier became chief in December.

“He’s a transplant from Las Vegas. Maybe it was a gamble to pick him,” SHOPO President Robert Cavaco said.

Out of the union’s 276 members, Cavaco said about 60% of them participated in the survey.

“One third of the department is considering leaving the Maui police department within the next two years. We can’t afford that, we already have 100 vacancies,” Krau said. “This is a big public safety concern.”

According to officials, there were 90 vacant officer positions before Pelletier became chief back in November. In January, that number jumped to 101. In March it was 103.

Now, there are 100 vacancies.

Meanwhile, Chief Pelletier also has defenders in the department.

“I assure you, give the department some time to recover from the problems from the past administration and you’re gonna see positive results,” said Lt. Jamie Winfrey.

Winfrey came out of retirement after she saw what Pelletier was promising.

“The department is heading in a new direction. The chief is making some tough but necessary calls for the betterment of the department and it’s making some people uncomfortable, but that’s not reflective of the majority,” Winfrey said.

MPD said filling those vacant positions is a priority. They are working on retention along with ramping up recruitment.

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