AP NEWS

Honolulu police chief to use new staff for patrols, outreach

March 6, 2020 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu’s police chief plans to use new officers promised by a budget increase 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 funding is expected to be used to fill 95 new police positions and reactivate six others. All but 16 will be for sworn officers.

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.

A few years could be needed 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.