HONOLULU (KHON2) — Staffing shortages continue to impact police departments.
“As the population increases, of course, crime increases as well. And our officers are just overworked,” said Sgt. Jason Grouns from the Hawaii Police Department.
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Big Island Police are down about 56 officers while Honolulu has 350 vacancies.
Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan said, “I’ve got mainland police departments poaching off of us asking our officers to move to the mainland giving them incentive pay to come and be police officers on the mainland.”
New initiatives are in the works to attract and keep officers on the islands.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardis’ office said the city is working on housing options.
Chief Logan said, “they’re working to purchase a parcel and a building that’s for first responders. So this would be apartments that would be for first responders that are interested in coming to work for the city and county of Honolulu.”
Hawaii police already had housing for officers stationed in Kona who aren’t from the Big Island.
Maui police said it gives out $15,000 stipends for officers who are involuntarily assigned to Lanai, Molokai and Hana for rent.
Among other priorities, is pay.
“Maybe looking at that in the future offering a $5,000, $10,00 bonus to stay here in Hawaii sign up to be a Honolulu police officer,” said Chief Logan.
Filling up positions in patrol is a necessity for Chief Logan. Especially with populations growing, he wants to create new police districts in Waianae and North Shore.
Logan added, “if I make another district I have leadership, I have to take from within and then I’ve taken away from the patrol officer’s leadership to create another entity.”
Chief Logan said he is also working with public schools to target the next generation.
“Kids who may be interested in joining the police department or fire department or becoming an EMT can go to this class and take it as an elective and get interested in what they want to do, see what it’s like,” said Logan.
One of the immediate changes to improve staffing is sizing down recruit classes to lower attrition rates.
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HPD will also try a lateral officer program and continue the 3 to 12 schedules.