Recent events in our country have shown that it is quite possible to be a avid supporter of the police, while at the same time feel strongly that changes are needed. That’s precisely how I felt as I read “Hawaii Police Department seeks applicants” (Tribune-Herald, Oct. 6).
First of all, something about the compensation offered, as compared to the job requirements, seems totally out of line. I’m a retired Department of Education teacher, and even after six years of college and 30 years of service, I never earned the salary that a 21-year-old with a high school diploma is being offered today. But that’s only part of my concern.
When I was teaching at Maui High School, the police department once received special funding for a program called “Law and Justice Awareness,” and for two weeks a lieutenant took over my social studies classes. There could not have been a better fit than this local man with a great sense of humor.
But on his very first day, as he was perspiring profusely, he asked if I could please find another fan, and he wondered aloud why our portable classrooms weren’t air-conditioned.
He struggled at times with some of my more unruly students and was totally exhausted as the last period of the day finally rolled around. I will never forget his exact comment as he prepared to leave: “Nobody, I mean nobody, in our police department worked harder than I did today.”
But my concern is not so much with the $65,652 starting salary and its many benefits, as it is with the mere six months of academy training. Most Scandinavian countries require two years of college-level courses in criminal justice before they even enter their police academy. Only then will they be handed a powerful weapon and the keys to a fast car.
Those two extra years, the equivalent of a community collage Associate of Arts degree, could go far in preventing the frequent breakdown in protocol such as we witnessed in George Floyd’s death.
Finally, I am aware that I am dating myself when I acknowledge that I remember the days when police were often assigned to “walk a beat.” How I would love to see its return as part of a new recruits’ training.
Most of Hilo’s homeless can be found within a few blocks, and the benefits of regular and casual nonthreatening encounters could be extremely beneficial to everyone.
Teach financial literacy
In response to Michael Last’s recent letter to the editor (Your Views, Sept. 15), for most of us who understand the breadth and complexity of financial literacy, it is more than just knowing how to write a check — which County Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder already knows how to do, thanks to his home economics class in high school.
Here’s a short list from an extensive list of financial literacy topics which would help our students in today’s world: pay check, banking, budgeting, credit cards, debt management, student loans, filing taxes, home buying, mortgages, preventing foreclosure, life insurance, investment strategies, identity theft, getting married, power of attorney.
Financial literacy is sorely lacking in our educational curriculum. Since our public education is a state responsibility, the Department of Education would benefit from Hawaii County’s effort to call attention to the DOE’s oversight in providing age-appropriate financial literacy from K-12.
By the time a student graduates from high school, enters the job market or goes on to college, he or she would be more akamai about money — its benefits, pitfalls and management.