Friday, Dec. 08, 2023 |
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More than 14% of the Hawaii Police Department’s budgeted sworn positions were unfilled as of mid-September.
There were 69 sworn vacancies in the 483-officer Hawaii Police Department as of Sept. 15, Acting Chief Kenneth Bugado told the Hawaii County Police Commission during its meeting Sept. 16 in Kailua-Kona. That figure includes the 17 officers of the 94th recruit class who are now on solo assignment.
The number of vacancies, however, doesn’t reflect the 14 officers in the 95th and 96th recruit classes that are set to complete training at the end of October and December, respectively.
Once those officers are on the road, assuming no additional vacancies crop up, the number of open sworn positions will be down to 55 by the end of the year.
Bugado said the department is currently recruiting for the 97th class. There were 250 applicants, with 32 making it to the background investigation phase. A written exam is scheduled for Sept. 27.
The acting chief told commissioners the department has had discussions about working with the University of Hawaii at Hilo to boost recruitment, however, nothing has yet come to fruition.
During the August police commission meeting, police reported 68 sworn positions were vacant. Last Sept. 15, the department had 50 vacancies, down from 73 in mid-October 2020, according to commission minutes.
In regard to civilian positions, 128 of the 155 positions — or 82.6% — are currently filled. Many of the vacant positions are in the dispatch section.
Meanwhile, the search for the Hawaii County’s next police chief continues as members of the commission await more details on the applicants
The nine-member commission, which currently has one vacancy, is tasked with appointing Hawaii County’s next police chief following the retirement of 40-year HPD veteran Paul Ferreira on Sept. 1. Bugado, who served as deputy chief during Ferreira’s nearly six years at the helm, is serving as acting chief while the process to select a permanent leader continues.
The commission during the Sept. 16 meeting planned to compile questions during executive session that the Department of Human Resources would distribute to the applicants amid its review of the applications received during the four-week recruitment period that opened Aug. 1.
Once the top candidates have been selected, the commission plans on holding at least one public forum, although the number of forums and locations have yet to be determined.
Police Commission Chairman John Bertsch could not provide a possible date of when the next chief will be selected.
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