Now hiring: Police departments in need of workers as vacancy rate continues to grow

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Their mission is to serve the community, but finding people to take the job is weighing on Maui’s new police Chief as the department’s vacancy rate continues to grow.

“The number is over 25%,” said John Pelletier, Chief of the Maui Police Department. “We’re authorized for 400 positions, and we’re down to 299.”

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It’s a decline the chief says has been happening since 2016, but he’s hoping to fix that.

“So we’re going to do a staffing study to see what exactly are the issues and concerns,” said Pelletier. “So one of the things that hadn’t existed before I got here was actual real time crime and intelligence led policing concepts.”

Pelletier says that will help show where the department’s resources need to go. He’s also looking at shortening time at the police academy and streamlining the hiring process.

The Maui County Council says it’s also looking at ways to attract new recruits.

“We’re still working on our housing concerns, but as we go through the new year I think we need to start looking at providing special housing for nurses, doctors, police, firefighters, and essential workers,” said Alice Lee, Chair of the Maui County Council.

Meanwhile, the Honolulu Police Departments says there are currently 322 vacancies. They say despite that number, it’s not impacting service to the public with about 1,800 officers in the force.

“That’s about average, we’ve seen historically the number of vacancies the past three years is around 300 to 350,” said Capt. Parker Bode of the Honolulu Police Department.

For HPD, the challenge is finding the right people. To help, the City and County has organized its first in-person job fair since the COVID pandemic with police, firefighters, and other city departments looking to hire.

“We’re going to make sure that this is the finest law enforcement organization, not just in the state, but in the country,” said Pelletier. “I need some folks that are motivated and thinking about it to come join us to join us on this journey.”

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