HONOLULU (KHON2) — Ever wonder what it takes to be an officer? Honolulu Police Department ramped up its recruitment to fill hundreds of vacancies.

Recruits in HPD’s training academy go through six months of rigorous instruction.

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Major Mike Lambert, of the HPD Training Division said, “It’s brutal, there’s no nice way to say it.”

“We test your mind throughout the day and in the afternoon we test your body, and that combination can be exhausting.”

As challenging as it is, those who’ve done it said it’s equally rewarding.

Major Aaron Takasaki-Young, head of the Human Resources Division, said HPD offers recruits a career, not just a job.

“If you’ve ever thought about being a hero, if you’ve ever thought about changing someone’s life for the better,” Lambert said, “It’s one of the only careers in life that you can choose that gives you that opportunity.”

HPD’s ramped up recruiting, with new classes starting every two months to fill more than 300 vacancies. According to HPD, there are over 40 recruits in three different classes.

Some are born into it, others consider it a calling.

“I grew up, my father is in law enforcement,” said Jordan Schneider, junior recruit class 204. “This is all something that I’ve just kind of always wanted to be in.”

Molly Wilt, freshman recruit class 205, said she wants to use her life experiences to help others that may be in need.

Academy training evolved over the years, according to Maj. Lambert. They recently incorporated a team-oriented approach.

Recruits are assigned a mentor from the start. That focus on camaraderie was a key ingredient in the experience according to HPD recruit Nainoa Fong-Aiu who is a member of the senior recruit class 203 graduating class.

“We all became close from day one,” Fong-Aiu said. “We were taught how to become family real quick, move as one, do as one.”

The freshman class 205, are about six weeks into training spending lots of time learning about the law.

HPD freshman recruit Jeremy Patricio said it’s a lot of studying.

“It’s time-consuming,” Patricio said, “But it’s worth it.”

After three months, recruits transition to hands-on training. One part of that is the emergency vehicle operations course or EVOC. That’s where they learn defensive driving techniques, how to handle their vehicle and what to do.

Another part of their training in learning to shoot.

In firearm training, marksmanship and safety are key. The goal is always to prevent any collateral damage.

Courtney Goodness, HPD junior recruit, class 204 Courtney Goodness, said each day is a journey.

“It’s definitely a challenge and that’s what I signed up for,” Goodness said.

For Branin Moore, a member of the senior class 203, graduating Friday, there’s a sense of relief and gratitude.

“It feels super good,” Moore said. “All the hard work that we put in six months, it’s finally paying off.”

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