The committee has recommended an immediate review and upgrade of the police salary structure, particularly at the lower and middle salary bands.
It said the increase was needed: “… as an incentive to boost morale and motivate police officers to uphold the utmost integrity in discharging their duties and to retain them in the service for longer”.
The committee said it was “totally dismayed at the state of police salaries and wish for the situation to be rectified as a matter of urgency”.
Currently police constables at the completion of their 12 weeks recruitment training are paid a gross salary of $14,000 per annum.
“And stay on that salary for a very long time until they get a promotion,” the report said.
In contrast to the Cook Islands Police Service’s starting salary of $14,000, New Zealand constables coming out of recruitment training start on $58,000.
Police Commissioner Maara Tetava told the committee he thought that the low “salary could have been a factor” that may have led to the 2014 conviction on theft by former officer Davinia Webb.
Tetava also advised that police have submitted countless proposals to government over the past five years for salary adjustments, but all these proposals have been declined by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management Budget Support Group.
The commissioner advised that the police service had a huge staff turnover rate that affected morale and the cost of training of recruits was also punitive.
He said in one week up to six staff had resigned.
The committee was told that the majority of recruits were from the outer islands and Rarotongan recruits were few in comparison.
The salary level was potentially one of the key reasons for the reluctance to join the force.
In its recommendations the committee wanted to strengthen future police training in forensic investigations in order “to up-skill our local police force in forensic investigative techniques”.
And it wanted the police recruits Basic Training Programme to include sessions on building character, morale and integrity.
In a move to increase the safety of police officers, the committee suggested that parliament approve an additional $30,000 so the police service could buy more protective gear and priority tactical response kits.
Earlier this year police were given six bullet-proof jackets and four helmets by the People’s Republic of China.
The committee also backed police efforts to source a more suitable tactical response