Chief looking to fill 190 vacancies in Honolulu Police Department

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As the Honolulu Police department gets ready to graduate it’s newest recruit class Wednesday, the police chief is letting us in on one of the biggest roadblocks to hiring.

She says many applicants can’t pass the background check.

Twenty-one new recruits are graduating from the Honolulu Police Academy tonight.

Chief Susan Ballard wants more.

She told commissioners HPD needs 164 new patrol officers in order to be staffed at 100 percent.

When asked what the biggest hurdle is to fill positions, Ballard said

“Mostly the background check. We get a lot of people that apply but by the time we get through the background checks, psychological all the other things we do … it narrows down the recruitment pool,” said Chief Susan Ballard, Honolulu Police Department.

Starting pay for officers is $64,000.

HPD requires its officers to have a high school diploma or GED.

Each applicant takes a written test first.

“A lot of times, the written test will narrow field down from 30 to 40 percent. It gets wheedled down from there,” added Ballard.

HPD checks each applicant’s criminal, drug, and driving history.

Applicants must also pass a physical exam.

“The difficult part is getting people to meet all the requirements and show that they’re gonna be suitable for the job,” said Deputy Chief Jonathan Grems.

Ballard said she wants more mainland applicants. And add more women to the police force.

“Right now, we’re at 11 percent. Obviously we would like to get more. We’ve been been doing talks at high schools to encourage women to apply and consider this a career,” Ballard explained.

About 30 to 50 officers retire every year.

The department believes it will take about three years to fill those vacancies.

Seannette Nakasone was one of the 21 recruits to shake chief Susan Ballard’s hand and receive their badge Wednesday night. “I’m so proud to become a police officer. Today’s the best day of my life,” said Nakasone.

The department working to fill around 190 vacancies.

As part of an effort to get more qualified recruits, HPD is opening up online applications year round, instead of only a few testing periods a year. “We’ve actually taken over a lot of the recruitment process, and then we have it online so that there is continuous recruitment. So anybody out there who needs a job it’s a great job great career.”

HPD will also be looking to the mainland for recruits, and Ballard also says she’s hoping to get more women into an HPD uniform. “Absolutely we want to get a high percentage of women by the time I retire I would love to have 30 percent.”

On Wednesday, the new recruits talked about working under the first female chief in HPD’s history. “It means a lot. Chief Ballard gives us all motivation. Her words are very encouraging and I’m so happy to work for her,” added Nakasone.

New officer David Ferreira added, “It’s going to be awesome. This is the fourth time I’ve met her and every time I meet her she has so much good advice. I’m really excited about the direction that the police department is going under her.”

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