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Alarming drop in HPD recruits who made it to graduation triggers concern among leaders

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:34 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In April, 47 recruits started at the Honolulu Police Academy. After 28 weeks, only 18 remained and graduated Thursday.

The 200th recruit class of the Honolulu Police Department had 15 men and three women.

At a meeting this week, Honolulu Police Commission members asked Interim Chief Rade Vanic why the numbers dropped nearly 60% during the training.

Graduation ceremony for 18 HPD recruits
Graduation ceremony for 18 HPD recruits(Honolulu Police Department)

“That’s huge,” said commissioner Richard Parry.

Vanic acknowledged the surprising numbers. “This attrition is much, much higher than we’ve seen in the past,” he said.

Vanic added a lot of the recruits left during the class for personal reasons.

“That’s very broad though so I’ve asked what those personal reasons are,” Vanic told commissioners.

HPD’s personnel strength report in September showed there are 1,825 uniformed officers out of 2,143 authorized positions — which leaves 318 vacancies.

The department said that dropped to 297 vacancies on Oct. 4, with 107 recruits in training.

Thursday’s small graduating class, will hardly put a dent in that gap.

It’s not clear if the 200th class was just an anomaly. They started in the month of April, when there were two high-profile police shootings. In one, 16-year old Iremamber Sykap was killed in McCully. A week later, Lindani Myeni was shot by officers in Nuuanu.

Also in April, the former HPD Chief Susan Ballard announced she was retiring.

Numbers provided by an HPD spokesperson show no other class in the past two years had less than 29 graduates.

HPD’s 199th class started with 57 in January of this year and 31 graduated in July.

Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters said he wants to offer HPD the panel’s help if the low graduation numbers continue.

“If that means providing the resources that they need, whether it’s a bonus or a higher pay, it’s certainly on the table and worth discussing,” Waters said.

There is a recruit class in session now. That class started in July and is scheduled to graduate in January.

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