HONOLULU (KHON2) — Changes are coming to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), aimed at addressing its staffing shortage. The police union, SHOPO, said officers will start working three 12-hour shifts next month to increase patrol coverage.

According to the president of SHOPO, HPD plans to start a pilot program to have officers in two districts — Kalihi and Windward Oahu — to work three 12-hour shifts a week. SHOPO said that can actually increase patrol coverage by 10%.

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“So the staffing right now is holding at 75%. That would increase the staffing around 85%, just by changing the work schedule,” said Robert Cavaco, SHOPO president.

The new schedule will be done for three months. Cavaco said if it works out, then it will be done island-wide. HPD was on the 3-12 schedule before but dropped it in 2006. Cavaco said it was because of overtime and sick leave abuse.

“Officers would call in sick three days in a row to take a week off, and in our contract, you don’t need a doctor’s note until you reach five consecutive days of sick leave, and then you bring in a doctor’s note,” said Cavaco.

That led to the department paying more overtime to cover those shifts. Cavaco said this time officers would need a doctor’s note after two sick days.

Cavaco added that the new schedule should also help with recruiting and morale. Interim Police Chief Rade Vanic shared his optimism on the proposal with the Honolulu Police Commission.

“We anticipate by the increased staffing being able to provide better service and also obviously through increased morale encourage officers to do their best, and those talks are going well,” said Vanic.

Vanic also met with a City Council committee and said he’s told commanders that if any shift falls below 75% staffing, call in more officers to work overtime of up to nine hours.

“So because of these, we have seen an increase in staffing. But like I said, we’re not just gonna stop there. We want to continue to improve the amount of staffing that we can have,” he said.

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SHOPO added that other ideas are being explored to reach the ultimate goal of 100% staffing.