Cook Islands Police spokesman Trevor Pitt confirmed they were able to apply for a pay increase recently. The increase came into effect earlier this month.
Pitt said unfortunately due to the limited funding, this only allowed an increase for the lower ranks to start with.
As more funds are made available, he said the remuneration adjustments for the others can be made.
There have been claims made that the pay rise has resulted in increased working hours for the lower ranked police officers.
However Pitt refuted this and clarified in terms of the working hours and schedules, a new roster system had been instituted by the Commissioner Maara Tetava.
“This is not related to the pay adjustments but to a strengthening of police procedures and tactical work. This new roster has had a significant impact already in reducing the level of incidents,” Pitt said.
“Time will tell how effective this change can be maintained but so far it's been very positive.”
Pitt did not divulge the rate of the pay increase.
CI News understands the new graduates are paid $12,000 annual salary during the 12 weeks training period and once they graduate, their salary improves by another $2000 which is $14,000. In contrast, New Zealand constables coming out of recruitment training start on $58,000.
In 2017, the Public Accounts Committee recommended a minimum of $20,000 a year for new constables.
The committee then 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.”
The proposal for a salary review came from Commissioner Tetava, who asked the committee in 2017 to make recommendations of better pay for his officers.
He said the Cook Islands Police Service had made proposals for salary increase to the relevant authorities in the past but these had been declined.
In his proposal, Tetava said 18 of his staff had left the police force within a year, adding low income could have been one of the factors leading to this “worrying figure.”
He also said an increase from $14,000 to $20,000 for constables and the salary scales thereafter would be a “decent increase” for his department.