To address staffing shortfalls, 12-hour shifts proposed for adult corrections officers

Some are hoping the answer is longer, but fewer, work days.
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:04 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:05 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Staffing shortages have another law enforcement agency considering out-of-the-box shift changes to attract new applicants.

Christin Johnson, the coordinator for the Correctional Systems Oversight Commission, is proposing 12-hour shifts in a bid to cut down on sick time and reel in new applicants.

She said she will make the official pitch to the union and state corrections officials in March.

“When people know that they have those four days off coming up, they don’t call in as much they don’t use as much vacation,” Johnson said.

For years, the state Department of Public Safety has had a problem with guards calling in sick, forcing those at work to stay for double or even triple shifts.

Tommy Johnson, the director of DPS, said his department is willing to consider any idea to increase staffing levels for the safety of the officers and inmates.

“The challenge for us as an employer is to find ways to recruit and retain quality staff because it is hard work,” Johnson said.

The department has 1,535 total positions for adult corrections officers.

Nearly 30%, or about 440 positions, are vacant.

Johnson pointed out in that number are 121 recently created positions for new housing units. He said those positions won’t be filled until construction on those units is complete.

Another reason that number is so high: A lot of guards retired.

Johnson said the “silver tsunami” is hitting PSD especially hard this year.

Meanwhile, 12-hour shifts are becoming more popular in the law enforcement community.

The Honolulu Police Department is currently conducting a pilot program using the longer shifts in two districts: Kalihi and on the windward side.

Dustin DeRollo, spokesman for the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said they are getting feedback from the officers participating.

“Officers do like the flexibility, they like the additional time off,” DeRollo said. But on the flip side, some officers are struggling because of the change.

“They have less time with family on those days.”

HPD will evaluate the pilot project to decide if it should expand.