Sunday, August 14, 2005

Honolulu Police Officer Chris Kuhn spends his nights on patrol in Waikiki. Last night he performed a routine check on the busy corner of Kaiulani and Kalakaua avenues.

HPD attracts
mainland recruits

The academy finds success
in gaining applicants abroad

Rookie Honolulu police officer Chris Kuhn says living in Hawaii on a policeman's salary is all right.

The father of a 2-year-old girl and two 9-month-old twin boys said he and his wife live comfortably while renting a home in Makakilo and saving to buy a house. To save money, the former California native takes his family to the beach or the park on his days off.

"The kids love it because the climate is always nice," Kuhn said. "And it's free.

"I know everyone always complains about the salary and I guess it's a little lower than some parts of the mainland but we're doing just fine."

Kuhn makes between $36,000 and $37,000 per year.

He is one of about 40 out-of-state recruits who graduated from the Honolulu Police Department academy in February and call Oahu home. He and others were recruited during HPD's first mainland recruitment trip to Portland, Ore., in 2003.

This year police recruiters are planning another trip, this time to San Diego, to test more applicants who are interested in becoming a Honolulu police officer. The trip is in response to the interest shown by about 600 people to an online ad for police officers posted by the department in July.

"Out of the six hundred that applied, nearly 50 came out here to take an exam on July 16," said HPD Career Center recruiter, Detective David Do.

"We got the idea that a lot of them who didn't come out would apply if we came out there so we're going to San Diego to meet them halfway.

"They're coming from all over ... the south, the Midwest, the West Coast, the East Coast. They're converging from everywhere."

Do said he and other recruiters will be in San Diego on Sept. 21 to 25 and will be testing about 150 people per day. This is a big turnaround from several years ago when HPD officers were leaving Oahu for better paying law enforcement jobs in the Pacific Northwest.

"Absolutely ... for whatever reasons, they're looking for jobs," Do said. "In fact we picked San Diego because some of the San Diego applicants said the economy there is right for something like this."

Kuhn said before he joined HPD he ran a federally funded drug and alcohol recovery program on a Native American reservation and from that job had taken an interest in law enforcement. He had also always wanted to live in Hawaii and said coming here was like killing two birds with one stone.

"It's fun, I like it a lot ... especially walking around in Waikiki and meeting the merchants, tourists, locals," he said. "But don't come here expecting an office job," he said. "Being a police officer is hard work."

HPD officials said as of July 31, out of their 2060 authorized police positions they have 1845 officers on the street, 171 in training and 44 positions vacant.

Honolulu Police Department

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