HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Police Department is working on turning vacant positions into opportunities to bring back retired officers amid a staffing shortage. It’s not the only police department changing operations to address shortages.
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Big Island Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz said, the department is down 80 positions. Chief Moszkowicz added, since they shifted from two recruit classes a year, to accepting applications on a continuous basis, there’s a background check backlog.
“We need people to staff the positions to do the backgrounds, but we don’t have those people so the backgrounds get slowed down which makes it harder to hire people which makes it harder to promote people into these positions,” said Chief Ben Moszkowicz of the Hawaii Police Department.
Chief Moszkowicz is working with County HR to fill that gap.
“If we could convert two or three of our vacant funded positions into a contract that lasts for six months or up to a year, then we could potentially bring back retired detectives or bring back anybody that has these qualifications that can help us do these background checks,” Moszkowicz said.
“Vacancies in other departments, we can find ways to work around,” said Heather Kimball, Hawaii County Council Chair. “It might delay processes a little, but when we talk about law enforcement, it really has a day to day impact on our local community.”
Big Island police aren’t the only ones facing shortages. According to the police union, Honolulu has nearly 400 vacancies. HPD said, it has contracted retired officers to work at the receiving desks of police stations for years. It allows the department to put more patrol officers on the road. Meanwhile, patrol officers switched to a three day, 13 hour work schedule in August to help with staffing. HPD said, it’s also piloting a 4-10 work schedule for certain civilian positions.
The Maui Police Department also has a reserve program for retired personnel to assist with department duties.
On Hawaii Island, Chief Moszkowicz said, this change will be an investment, but it can help fully staff the department in the next two years.
“It’s a little more now to spend this money on these contracts, but if we’re successful in getting people through the process and getting people through recruit classes then it’s worth it in the end,” Moszkowicz said.
Big Island police hope to get the position posted soon.