Honolulu major selected as new Hawai’i County police chief
The Hawai‘i County Police Commission has selected Major Benjamin T. Moszkowicz, a 22-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, to be the next chief of police.
Of the four finalists, Moszkowicz was the only one who did not have ties to the Hawai‘i County Police Department.
While his start date hasn’t been ironed out yet, Moszkowicz said he suspects he’ll take the mantle as chief in early January.
“I’m very grateful to get over there and get on the job and earn people’s trust,” he said. “I look forward to getting back over there, getting my feet on the ground and start working.”
Moszkowicz was selected by a 5-3 vote, with Police Commission Chair John Bertsch having recused himself due to a close relationship with finalist Edward G. Ignacio.
But his selection didnʻt occur during the first vote of the commissioners at Friday’s Police Commission meeting in Hilo. None of the candidates — Paul N. Applegate, Sherry D. Bird, Ignacio or Moszkowicz — secured a majority, resulting in the commission moving into a closed-door executive session.
In the original vote, Moszkowicz had four ayes from commissioners Dylan Andrion, Rod Quartararo, Rick Robinson and Vice Chair Thomas Brown.
Bird, the only internal finalist and major of HPD’s Area II Field Operations Bureau, received two aye votes from commissioners Anthony Sur and Pudding Lassiter.
Ignacio, a retired senior resident agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, received two aye votes from commissioners Donna Springer and Denby Toci.
Applegate, a captain at the Kaua’i Police Department, received no votes.
After the meeting was reopened to the public, a new motion on the floor was made for the commission to vote on reconsidering Moszkowicz.
Lassiter, who initially supported Bird, said she also favored Moszkowicz throughout this selection process.
“I originally voted for Maj. Bird hoping she’d be the first female chief of police, but today is not that day,” Lassiter said. “I continue to be a big Maj. Moszkowicz supporter and would like to change my vote as I have full faith in his ability to serve as your next chief of police.”
Lassiter’s vote for Moszkowicz provided the five needed to select him as chief.
Toci, Sur and Springer did not change their votes.
Moszkowicz currently supervises 146 employees as the Honolulu Police Department Division Commander for traffic, information technology division, human resources and criminal investigations.
He has a Bachelor of Artʻs degree in Public Administration from the University of Hawaii at West Oʻahu and a Masterʻs Degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership from the University of San Diego. He also is a graduate fo the 282nd session of the FBI National Academy. Click here for his application packet.
Over his entire career, Moszkowicz has the unique distinction of having worked in every bureau in the Honolulu Police Department, according to his biography.
On May 9, 2019, Moszkowicz, a certified Drug Recognition Expert Instructor, was honored with the first-ever Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Hawaii Lifetime Achievement Award for his sustained dedication to combatting impaired driving through education and enforcement.
His other professional awards include the Honolulu Police Department Bronze Medal of Merit (the department’s highest merit-based award) and the Certificate of Merit. He was named the Overall Police Officer of the Year and Sergeant of the Year in 2011.
Moszkowiz also served for nearly a decade as the Director for the Hawaiʻi Law Enforcement Torch Run, an organization that benefits athletes with intellectual disabilities.
Hawai‘i County Mayor Mitch Roth said he’s worked with all of the four finalists for chief and felt any of them would be a good choice.
“Having worked with Chief Benjamin Moszkowicz for over 15 years on numerous traffic safety committees, I can confidently say that he’s an intelligent guy who works very well with others,” Roth said. “I’m excited to continue our work together as we build upon the incredible foundation of community-minded policing laid by former Chief Ferreira and Acting Chief Bugado.”
Roth also commended the commission on the diligent work done to narrow the candidates to such a great group of individuals.
“It takes a lot to want to be considered for the position, as it does to narrow such a qualified pool, and so I extend my sincerest mahalo to all of the candidates and the commissioners who participated in the tedious process,” he said.
The Police Commission began its top cop search after Chief Paul Ferreira announced his retirement in June after 40 years with the department.
Starting with a pool of 44 applicants, the number was whittled to 21 after candidates returned filled-out questionnaires. Bertsch said the applicants were known to the commission only by numbers to keep the process unbiased.
During closed-door sessions in November, the commission members discussed the remaining candidates — who were still known to them only by numbers.
The four finalists were interviewed during two public meetings earlier this week.
Moszkowicz said he enjoyed the selection process because it allowed for an open discussion about the concerns at the Hawaiʻi Police Department. By knowing what the concerns are, he can address them.
Based on the concerns, one of the first things he intends to look at is training for incumbent officers and creating a formal lesson plan.
“There seems to be a lack of formal training,” Moszkowicz said. “I’m not sure how comprehensive it is and how well we’re documenting it.”