Honolulu seeks to address officer shortage
HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu Police Department is focusing on recruitment as it seeks to fill more than 200 officer vacancies.
The number of vacancies recorded this month is up from 174 in December.
“Right now we barely have 2,100 officers serving on any given day on this island alone serving about 1 million people all locals and visitors alike so we are shorthanded as it is already,” said Tenari Maafala, the head of the State of Hawaii Police Officers Union.
HPD said recruiting can be a challenge because it sometimes takes more than a year for someone to begin training at the police academy after they apply.
Glenn Luecke, a 20-year veteran of the police force, said it’s also difficult finding people who can handle the tough nature of the job.
“I think people realize that you need to have thick skin and you need to have certain qualities to do this job,” he said.
The department currently has 106 recruits in various stages of training.
Maafala said the salary for new recruits is $63,000, which helps attract potential officers to the department. He said HPD is looking for new officers while also focusing on retention.
“Maybe about eight or maybe even nine years ago there was a huge exodus of officers that left Honolulu PD even the outer island police departments that went to the West Coast police departments,” Maafala said. “That’s what we’re kind of trying to avoid. We’re trying to keep our locals here in Hawaii.”
The police officers union is starting negotiations with the city for a new contract, as the current contract expires this year.
Maafala said the salary for new recruits is $63,000, which helps attract potential officers to the department.