The Hawaii Police Commission has tapped Benjamin Moszkowicz, a Honolulu police major, to be the Big Island’s new top cop.

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The 5-3 vote came Friday during the commission’s monthly meeting in Hilo and followed two days of public sessions in Hilo and Kona where community members, including police officers, provided testimony. Moszkowicz beat out three other finalists. The original applicant pool contained some 44 names. Only the four finalists’ names have been publicly revealed.

The other finalists were retired FBI senior resident agent Edward Ignacio; Big Island police major Sherry Bird; and Kauai police captain Paul Applegate.

Four candidates vied to become the Big Island’s police chief. From left to right they are Sherry Bird, Benjamin Moskowicz, Edward Ignacio and Paul Applegate. Paula Dobbyn/Civil Beat/2022

The five commissioners who voted for Moszkowicz were Vice Chair Thomas Brown, Dylan Andrion, Rod Quartararo, Rick Robinson and Pudding Lassiter, according to Charisse Corea, secretary for the police and fire commissions.

Commissioners Denby Toci, Anthony Sur and Donna Springer voted no.

Chair John Bertsch recused himself because of his friendships with two of the finalists.

“It was a very difficult decision because we felt all of the candidates had something great to offer,” Brown said in an interview.

He voted for Moszkowicz because he was “very articulate about how he would tackle” some of the problems plaguing the Hawaii island police force. Some of the issues raised by police officers who spoke at the public meetings this week included a lack of annual training to keep up to date in areas such as use of force and firearms, constant schedule changes that make it difficult to have a life outside the job and questionable promotion practices.

Benjamin Moszkowicz answers questions during a police commission meeting held Monday at Hilo's County Building.Photo: Tim Wright
Benjamin Moszkowicz answers questions during a police commission meeting held Monday at Hilo’s County Building. Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2022

Moszkowicz said during a break in Tuesday’s meeting that addressing those issues amounts to low-hanging fruit because they are not complicated matters.

Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth said all four finalists were great choices for police chief and he has worked with all of them in his former role as prosecuting attorney.

As far as Moszkowicz specifically, Roth said “he’s an intelligent guy who works very well with others. 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.”

Ferreira retired on Sept. 1 after 40 years with the Big Island police force. Moszkowicz has worked for the Honolulu Police Department since 2000.

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