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Honolulu Police Chief To Use New Staff For Patrols, Homeless Outreach

Casey Harlow / HPR
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard discussed how Mayor Kirk Caldwell's budget plan will address HPD's staffing shortage, Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Honolulu's police chief plans to use new officers promised by the mayor's latest budget plan to add neighborhood patrols and increase homeless outreach.

Honolulu Chief of Police Susan Ballard told a meeting of the city's police commission Wednesday that the expected personnel influx for the department would be the largest in decades, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell made public his $2.98 billion budget proposal Tuesday that includes $312 million for the police department.

The budget plan calls for filling 95 new police positions and reactivating six others. All but 16 will be for sworn officers.

The positions would be unfunded with new dollars for now since the department is still recruiting to fill vacant positions.

Ballard said many of the positions will be used “just to shore up some of our areas." She mentioned adding foot patrols in Waikiki and Chinatown, as well as Kailua “because it’s starting to grow to be a very important area for tourism.”

About a dozen positions would be used for the police department’s Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons initiative, Ballard said.

The program connects people with housing, shelter or treatment programs that best fit their needs, according to the city.

A few of the added positions would be in the department’s cybercrime and elder abuse units, while some civilian positions would be added to the video management unit to relieve officers currently working there, Ballard said.

It could take four to five years to fill about 230 current vacancies in the department and the new positions in Caldwell’s budget. Contributing factors to delays include officers who retire or leave Oahu, low salaries and a low number of qualified applicants, she said.

“You’re not going to realize a full-staffed police department probably until 2024, 2025,” Ballard said.

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