Big Island community welcomes ‘Chief Ben’ to Hawai‘i Police Department

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Chief Ben Moszkowicz shakes hands with Kona resident Virginia Halliday following swearing in ceremony on Jan. 20, 2023, at the West Hawai’i Civic Center. Photo: Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now

At the public swearing in ceremony of new police chief Benjamin T. Moszkowicz, Hawai‘i County Managing Director Lee Lord told the crowd: “What a special occasion. Congratulations to Chief Ben. His hiring heralds in a new chapter of leadership for the Hawai‘i Police Department.”

Members of the public and law enforcement stood in line Friday afternoon at the Hawai‘i Civic Center to congratulate and welcome “Chief Ben.”

Stacked with so much lei that his face was barely visible, Chief Moszkowicz shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with everyone in line.

There was a feeling of optimism and excitement at the ceremony during which the public witnessed Chief Moszkowicz reaffirming his oath and outlining what he immediately planned to do. (He had previously been sworn in by Mayor Mitch Roth at a private ceremony on Jan. 11.)

Several community leaders were present for Friday’s ceremony, as well as Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan and former Maui Police Chief Gary Yabuta, who is now director of Hawai‘i High Intensity Drug Trafficking Agency.


Moszkowicz started the job Jan. 17. He is in charge of more than 600 employees and responsible for a $69 million budget.

Moszkowicz told the audience he hopes to create a culture at the Hawai‘i Police Department that is positive and shows the community the good the officers do daily: “They do a job most would not or could not do.”

He also announced five initiatives he plans to start immediately. The first is to kickstart recruiting efforts by reaching out to high school and college-aged students who might not be old enough to become a police officer.

  • Chief Benjamin T. Moskowicz (right) was sworn in during the public ceremony by Hawai’i County Managing Director Lee Lord on Jan. 20, 2023. Photo: Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now
  • Community gathers to witness swearing in of Chief Ben Moszkowicz of Hawai’i Police Department on Jan. 20, 2023, at the West Hawai’i Civic Center. Photo: Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now
  • Hawai’i Police officers lined the outside of the rotunda at the West Hawai’i Civic Center on Jan. 20, 2023, as Ben Moszkowicz was sworn in as police chief. Photo: Tiffany DeMasters/Big Island Now

He said young people under 21 could be hired to help with administrative duties until they are old enough to apply for the academy.

The second is creating a deferred retirement program, which would be budget neutral and incentivizes seasoned employees to stay with the department a little longer to help train upcoming officers.


The third is to do a thorough review of general orders, including promotions. Moszkowicz said he wants to make sure these orders reflect the needs of the department.

The fourth is to work on standardizing and documenting training. Starting in March, Moszkowicz said officers will begin standardized training that include hands-on tactical and firearms training.

The fifth initiative is community outreach and input. Moszkowicz said he wants to solicit feedback from the community.

“It’s only through honest communication that we can improve the department,” he said.

Moszkowicz also plans to continue his involvement with Hawai‘i Special Olympics on the Hawai‘i Island chapter as a volunteer and coach.


Kona resident Virginia Halliday came out to the event because she wanted to meet the new chief. While she didn’t have a lei to offer, Halliday stood in line after the ceremony to introduce herself and offer a handshake.

“I’m very impressed with him, especially the five things he said he’d do,” Halliday said.

The Hawai‘i County Police Commission named Moszkowicz as chief on Dec. 16, 2022. He was selected out of a pool of 44 applicants to replace Paul Ferreira, who retired in September 2022.

Moszkowicz comes to Hawai‘i Island from Honolulu Police Department, where he most recently served as Major in the Traffic Division. During his 22-year tenure with Honolulu Police Department, he served in every division from patrol watch commander to overseeing the 60-member Police Mountain Bike Team, to managing the Information Technology Division and Human Resources Division.

He was chosen over three other finalists :

  • Edward Ignacio – Retired Senior Resident Agent for the FBI and former officer at the Hawaiʻi Police Department and Honolulu Police Department.
  • Paul Applegate – Acting Assistant Chief, Patrol Services Bureau at the Kauaʻi Police Department
  • Sherry Bird – Police Major, Area II Field Operations Bureau, at the Hawaiʻi Police Department.

New Hawai‘i County Police Commission Chair Thomas Brown told the crowd on Friday the four finalists were all great candidates, but Moszkowicz stood out because he had a plan for the department.

“What struck us was his commitment to integrity and service to the community,” he said.

Brown said Moszkowicz’s salary — listed by the county at $156,000 a year — is good but it’s not the highest in the department.

“It reflects his commitment to the job,” he said.

Moszkowicz will name a deputy chief at a later time, and that nominee will then go before the Police Commission for approval.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a full-time reporter for Pacific Media Group. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Tiffany can be reached at [email protected].
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