HONOLULU (KHON2) — Dozens showed up to the Honolulu Police Department’s Women in Policing event Saturday. HPD said they hope to hold more events like this to recruit women and men into the force and to help fill hundreds of department vacancies.

It was a good turnout for the first Women in Policing event held since the pandemic according to Cody Kodama, an officer with HPD’s recruitment and stems unit.

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“This is the first one in, I want to say a few years. So do I think it makes a difference? Absolutely,” Kodama said. “The turnout was tremendous, like I said over 40 women showed up today. We weren’t expecting that many.”

Several of those who attended, including Stacy May Medeiros, said they already started the application process.

“I just passed the physical so of course I want to pursue my career here possibly in the SWAT division,” Medeiros explained. “This actually helped me to want to be successful in this career.”

According to Kodama, the event gives women the opportunity to ask questions and hear first hand experiences about what it’s really like, from women like Major Shellie Paiva, a 25 year veteran of the force who spoke candidly about it.

“Its not easy,” Paiva explained to the crowd. “I swear from the time I can remember, I wanted to be a police officer in some way, shape or form. It is something that my heart has always been drawn to and I feel like if that isn’t what you feel, it’s gong to be rough.”

Kodama said it can be challenging but it’s also rewarding.

“It just makes you feel like you are able to help the public, you’re able to serve your community,” said Kodama.

Women currently make up 10% to 12% of the HPD according to Kodama, which is around the national average for women in law enforcement.

“Law enforcement, a lot of the time, it is a male dominated career, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t fit into that,” Kodama said.

Jean Kitzro said she wants to be an officer to help make a difference.

“For myself, I think it’s just an honorable thing to do,” Kitzro said. “If people want to see a change in the community, they should be a part of it.”

HPD continues to face a shortage of officers. Chief Joe Logan told the Honolulu Police Commission earlier this week the department has 348 vacancies and that the number of applications they’ve received are down since the same time last year.

“In law enforcement today we do need more people out there we do need more police officers,” Kodama said.

Kodama said they are hoping to do more recruiting events during the year.

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