HONOLULU (KHON2) — Changes are in the works at the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) as it tries to solve a growing staffing shortage problem. The police officers’ union said the situation is putting people’s lives in danger.

HPD is already short of some 300 officers. The omicron COVID surge has made the problem even worse as the department tries to have enough officers on patrol. The State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO) said officers put themselves in more danger.

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“Your cover officer might be coming from 10 miles away and if it’s a situation where if it’s dynamic or in progress, domestic dispute, stabbing,” said SHOPO President Robert Cavaco.

Cavaco said he met with interim Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic and solutions are in the works. Vanic told the police commission on Wednesday, Feb. 2, that he has told commanders to make full use of what is known as a backfill list made up of 180 officers not assigned to the patrol division.

“They can pull from that list, that way they can make sure that they maintain the proper level of staffing. So, that’s one of the things that we discussed,” explained Vanic.

Vanic said detectives from the Criminal Investigation Division, officers from Specialized Services Division or SWAT, as well as officers from outside the district can be used to fill shifts when needed.

“It’s not like these officers are just in the department not doing anything. They have functions and they have job duties, full-time job duties. But our priority as I’ve mentioned in the past is patrol,” Vanic continued.

The union said more ideas are in the works.

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“We’re both collaborating together, and I truly believe that we can come up with some kind of solution in order to make it happen,” said Cavaco.