Saturday, November 10, 2001

Union OKs lawsuit over
police shortage

By Leila Fujimori

The union representing Oahu police has approved filing a lawsuit against the city and the Honolulu Police Department, which contends that officer safety is compromised by a staffing shortage.

"The chief doesn't want a lawsuit; we don't want a lawsuit," said Alexander Garcia, board chairman of SHOPO's Oahu chapter. "I think we'll be making an attempt to resolve this."

Garcia met with police Chief Lee Donohue yesterday afternoon to discuss the issue.

"We're working with SHOPO to address the officers' concerns," Donohue said. "Ideally, we'd like to have all of the beats fully staffed 24 hours a day."

"Adjustments have to be made," Donohue said, noting that officers have to appear in court, attend training, or may get sick or go out on vacation.

The HPD has faced recruitment and retention problems in the past few years. Some West Coast police departments have lured Honolulu police officers away with higher salaries.

Garcia would not address the specific problems resulting from the shortage of officers until after the lawsuit is presented Wednesday to the union's state board for final approval. However, Garcia said a lot of obstacles stand in the way of resolving the problem, but he was hopeful.

"Whether by negotiation or by civil action, it's going to be resolved," Garcia said.

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