The officers didn’t get prior approval before providing security for a company, and some of their hours overlapped with on-duty time.

Editor’s note: The Honolulu Police Department is finally releasing officer misconduct records that Civil Beat requested under Hawaii’s public records law. In some cases it has taken years for the disciplinary action to be finalized and months or even years longer for the department to process our public records requests. We think many of the stories are still worth telling. In this story, two Honolulu police officers were disciplined after they were found to be working an unauthorized security jobs on the side — sometimes during hours that overlapped with their on-duty schedule. The details are compiled from the recently released Professional Standards Office investigative report and other sources.

Sgt. Jefferey Pohaku and Cpl. Mark Montez provided security in uniform for a company in 2018 and 2019 without prior permission from the police department.

Pohaku retired prior to being given a three-day suspension and Montez, who is still a corporal assigned to District 7, which covers East Honolulu, received a one-day suspension

The Honolulu Police Department Professional Standards Office in September 2019 began looking into reports that Pohaku and Montez were doing security for a company while in their police uniforms. 

A Honolulu Police Department vehicle is photographed Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at the HPD training facility in Waipahu. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)
Officers are allowed to take special duty jobs outside of their normal police duties, but the jobs must be pre-authorized by the department, must not overlap with any scheduled shifts and can’t exceed 24 hours per week. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)

Pohaku, who had been with the department since 1987, told internal investigators that one of the company supervisors had asked him to guard the building because he was worried about a disgruntled former employee who had threatened the office. 

Pohaku started the security job in June 2018 and Montez came on in September of that year. They were paid as independent contractors and “hung out” at the property in uniform to provide “presence and peace of mind,” the report says. Some weeks, Pohaku worked every day, including weekends.

  • Special Report

The amount they were paid per hour was redacted in the released report, but Pohaku confirmed being paid the “standard special duty rate,” which is $50 per hour, according to the police department.

The names of the company and other people interviewed also were redacted.

Officers are allowed to perform specialized or voluntary police duties outside of their normal hours, but according to the report, Pohaku and Montez did not go about it the right way.

All special duty assignments must be previously authorized by the department’s Major Events Division, a step these officers did not take. The jobs also cannot overlap with an officer’s shift and cannot exceed 24 hours per week.

Investigators found on dozens of days beginning in June 2018, Pohaku worked security at the company on mornings when his police shift was scheduled to start in the afternoon. A cross reference with his schedule showed that his work for the company overlapped with 13-and-a-half hours that he was supposed to be working for HPD. He also exceeded the 24-hour limit on multiple occasions, including one week during which he worked 61 hours at his side job.

One of Pohaku’s supervisors told investigators he didn’t recall Pohaku missing work but said he did remember a few times when Pohaku said he might be late because he was picking up his car from the shop. 

Montez was found to have worked 29 hours for the company that overlapped with his on-duty patrol.

Both Pohaku and Montez denied working for the company during their police hours.

Pohaku said he always left the company at least one hour before his shift was scheduled to start to ensure he made it on time.

Montez said that if he was ever on the company’s property during his police hours, it was because he was in the parking lot doing paperwork or using the restroom. He denied being paid by the company for hours that he was scheduled to be on duty. 

Pohaku also told investigators that he believed the company was planning to seek authorization from the police department for his special duty service so that it could be approved. He said later, though, that he wished he would have followed up with the department to make sure the job was authorized. 

However, a representative of the company told internal investigators he wasn’t aware special duty jobs had to be approved by the police department because Pohaku had told him he’d done “cash jobs” in the past. 

Another person told internal investigators that, in January 2019, the company stopped hiring Pohaku and Montez because they’d found someone cheaper to do security at $25 an hour.

A Honolulu police legislative disciplinary report from 2020 shows Montez was suspended for 10 days in a separate case after he was found to have conducted “personal business” on duty with a female acquaintance. He also sent multiple texts to the woman that included inappropriate messages “and/or” confidential police information. A criminal investigation was initiated into charges of harassment, kidnapping and second- and fourth-degree sexual assault, but the elements of a crime were never established. Civil Beat does not yet have the Professional Standards Office report in this case.

HPD did not respond to requests seeking comment.

A good reason not to give

We know not everyone can afford to pay for news right now, which is why we keep our journalism free for everyone to read, listen, watch and share. 

But that promise wouldn’t be possible without support from loyal readers like you.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help keep our journalism free for all readers. And if you’re able, consider a sustaining monthly gift to support our work all year-round.

 

 

About the Author