Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-honolulu-police-department-offers-$25k-signing-bonus-as-it-desperately-tries-to-fill-its-ranksAlert – Honolulu Police Department offers $25k signing bonus as it desperately tries to fill its ranks

A US Mayor has announced a $25,000 signing bonus for all those who apply to become police officers as the city struggles to fill hundreds of ranks. 

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi declared the launch of the incentive in his State of the City address earlier this year in hopes to improve the city’s officer shortage problem. 

Starting with this year’s 213th Recruit Class, all new recruits will receive the bonus if they complete three years on the force. 

The Honolulu Police Department has lost 589 officers and only hired 274 new recruits, resulting in a loss of 315 officers between 2020 and 2023, according to a data analysis by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi declared the launch of the incentive in his State of the City address earlier this year in hopes to improve the city’s officer shortage problem

During his address, Mayor Blangiardi described the incentive as an ‘effort to entice young people to join’ during his speech in March 2024. 

‘We realize it’s a tough decision. I wanted to make sure our police department had every possible tool they could have in their recruiting efforts because that is what it is going to take to try to entice some young people to join our police department,’ he said. 

A month after announcing the incentive, the department received 247 officer applications, compared with 153 in April 2023. 

But union officials believe that increasing hiring through incentives is not enough to compensate to fill the department’s startling number of vacancies. 

Jonathan Frye, chair of the police union’s Honolulu chapter explained that despite a huge number of applications, a number of them are expected to be rejected after not meeting minimum qualifications. 

But union officials believe that increasing hiring through incentives is not enough to compensate to fill the department's startling number of vacancies. (Stock image)

But union officials believe that increasing hiring through incentives is not enough to compensate to fill the department’s startling number of vacancies. (Stock image) 

He also estimated that about a third of those who make it to the police academy for training will drop out before graduation. 

The chair believes that the loss of officers is likely due to the bargaining contract expiring. 

He said it’s common for those eligible for retirement to retire at the end of a contract and on average the department can lose about 140 to 150 officers per year.

‘It was not uncommon to hear, especially the older more senior officers, saying, ‘Hey, make sure you work 32 years, get that good retirement. It’s a great place to be, you’re going to love it. 

‘But you don’t really hear talk like that as much anymore. And so, anecdotally, you’re hearing more officers saying, “You know what? I’m going to get my 25 years and I’m out”,’ Frye told Associated Press. 

A month after announcing the incentive, the department received 247 officer applications, compared with 153 in April 2023

A month after announcing the incentive, the department received 247 officer applications, compared with 153 in April 2023 

According to Jack Rinchich, president of the United States Law Enforcement Foundation, the department should also focus on retention policies rather than only recruitment incentives. 

‘Every time a seasoned officer leaves, I don’t care how many you hire, you cannot replace that skill and expertise that exists within them. 

‘When you lose those senior officers, yeah, you could fill their slot, but you’re bringing a person that’s unseasoned,’ he explained.  

In the past year alone, the department lost 143 sworn officers – out of which 68 retired, 35 permanently resigned, 23 resigned on ‘probable’ status, one person died in the line of duty and the remaining officers left for reasons including termination and discharge.  

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