The Big Mainland Police Raid

Larry Price
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Wednesday - February 22, 2006
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The word is raiders from the Mainland are coming to Hawaii in a couple of weeks to recruit disgruntled members of our Honolulu Police Department. The rumor around town is that our police force is unhappy with working schedules and pay.

This is not a new story for Hawaii. Many employers can tell you that they have been raided by people in their own industry with promises of better real estate prices, shorter work weeks and more money.

Even here in the islands the hotel industry has been subjected to raiding by other hotels. It got really nasty a decade ago, and finally a mutual agreement was reached between the ILWU and Hotel Workers Local 5, the results of which are still intact today.

A long time ago I had strong feelings about people from the Mainland coming here to recruit our local football players. Now when I look back 50 years, I can see how stupid it was to get upset about Mainland recruiters setting up shop in Honolulu, trying to recruit locals to play for their Pac-10 and Big 10 teams. They had all the reasons to lure the local athletes: better facilities, stronger schedule, better coaches and more exposure. The most despicable of all was that if the adventure doesn’t work you could always come back home and play for the lowly University of Hawaii.

Of course, many local athletes left for the Mainland deals, and many of them returned to tell stories of broken promises and discrimination. The bottom line is many recruits took the bait and left. It is also true that those who tried to play “two ends against the middle” during the recruiting process ended up losers. The old “can you match this offer or better it?” does-n’t work.

It’s hard to compete with the Mainland. It has cheaper land, probably better public schools and yes, if they get homesick, the dissenters can always use their frequent flyer miles to fly home.

In the world of collective bargaining, bluffing has been studied extensively. In most negotiations neither side expects to win its initial demands, and the other side knows the demands are greater than the expected settlement.

It is each individual’s right to go for the higher pay, better real estate deals and more lucrative opportunities.

The simple solution for the chief of police is if the rank and file are that unhappy, let them go. Bluffing serves several valuable purposes. If a disgruntled employee stated a final position first, concessions would be impossible. Let them talk about their potential great deals. The lack of concessions and compromise could destroy the relationship required in collective bargaining. Bluffing allows a bargainer to test the firmness of an opponent’s demand without a full commitment and the opportunity to hear about the employee’s expectations.

The union representing the rank and file should tread softly. The Honolulu Police Department is a quasi-military organization. Research shows that when the rank and file challenges the “general” and/or top management with the press, the results are usually not very good. Management always has the upper hand in matters dealing with the media.

The Honolulu Police Department is highly respected across the county. The Police Academy has a grand reputation for turning out superior police officers. It is actually a compliment that other municipalities consider recruiting our “disgruntled” police officers. Maybe in the future, if these rumors continue and attract recruiters, the City & County of Honolulu should put a clause in its contracts with graduates of the Police Academy. It would be similar to the one other academies use, which says the graduates are obligated to serve at least two years after their graduation date.

After all, they are being trained with taxpayers dollars to serve the residents of Hawaii, not the highest bidder.

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