HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to the police officers union, the Honolulu Police Department is still down about 300 officers. This comes as 190 officers are eligible for retirement, outpacing the number of recruits graduating from the academy.

“When we compare that to the attrition rate, the average in the past couple years have starting with classes at 40 and then when it comes six months later to graduation we’re graduating maybe 16, 17,” said Robert Cavaco President of SHOPO.

Get Hawaii’s latest morning news delivered to your inbox, sign up for News 2 You

A former HPD detective said there are a few reasons why some recruits don’t make it. Many are cut during background checks and testing.

“If you recruit somebody who has a high school diploma, GED, a driver’s license and is 20, it’s been probably three years since they’ve been in school,” said Sheryl Sunia, professor at Hawaii Pacific University. “So you’re in the academy, you have academic work, you have to take tests, you have to pass, you have to have physical agility.”

Sunia said many police departments have started recruiting from college to improve graduation rates.

“Not requiring but at least trying to recruit from there, because this is the time they know how to study. They know academics, they have basic skills and you really need to assess your training every so many years,” Sunia said.

The Maui Police Department is also seeing a shortage as patrol is down about 100 officers according to SHOPO. Chief John Pelletier has made some changes to fix that.

“I’ve directed that we take a look at the academy which was eight months believe it or not,” Pelletier said. “That doesn’t meet national standards which is about 900 hours. So I made ours comparable, because that’s who we’re competing against.”

SHOPO is urging departments to focus on recruiting and retaining officers. According to a WalletHub study, Hawaii is the second to the worst state to become an officer. The study cites Hawaii as one of the lowest states for median income growth for officers as well.

“There are other municipalities that pay for lateral officers. So that’s an officer that has five years experience at another agency. They’re paying those officers $25,000 signing bonuses,” Pelletier said.

SHOPO is hoping changes will come when HPD welcomes a new chief. The police commission says some of the finalists for the job will be revealed in Thursday’s commission meeting with a new chief selected on May 23.

Check out what’s going on around the nation on our National News page

“We’re going to take that opportunity definitely to put the future chief on notice and say this is a priority for us and our members. We really want to see this through,” Cavaco said.