Honolulu seeks to ad­dress of­fi­cer short­age

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - STATE/NATION -

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.

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