Audit raps police recruiting effort
A city report says the current system falls short in attracting officers and filling staffing needs
A city audit criticizes the Honolulu Police Department for assigning too few resources to recruitment and for a system that fails to let top brass effectively evaluate staffing needs on the street.
Only two officers work on recruitment, with only one working full time, according to the audit report, released Friday.
The pair has $40,000 annually for advertising and no budget for travel.
According to the audit, departments in other cities have larger staffs with six-figure budgets.
The department has an average of about 110 vacancies for patrol officers per year.
HPD also needs to make it easier for experienced officers from other jurisdictions to join the force, the audit recommended.
Other police departments accept lateral transfers with modified training programs and bonus incentives to new hires from other departments.
"HPD has seen its own ranks thinned by such practices, losing a total of 113 officers who departed to other law enforcement agencies since 1998," the report states.
In terms of manpower deployment, current reporting procedures at the department do not paint an accurate picture of officer availability and time spent on the streets, according to the audit.
Police district commanders use what are known as workload assessment reports to help justify staffing needs across the county.
However, some commanders do not take advantage of the reports as a tool to justify staffing.
"This, in turn, feeds into the perception that workload assessment reports are merely bureaucratic requirements, rather than a useful management tool for them to evaluate the sufficiency of their current staffing levels," the report states.
"Such inconsistencies make it difficult for higher-level officers, such as the patrol bureau chiefs, deputy chiefs and chief of police, to evaluate and prioritize staffing needs among the various districts."
The audit also states that while other cities track officers available for street patrol, Honolulu police do not have similar systems.
Instead, Honolulu police rely on a report that documents when officers are unavailable because they are responding to an incident. However, the report does not count additional units providing assistance at the incident.
The audit said the system contributes to a lack of data regarding actual workload.
Police Chief Boisse Correa said the department will work toward solving the problems.
On a broader note, the audit ends by stating that the department has a "can-do" culture that is reluctant to acknowledge that anything is beyond its capacity.
"While this attitude may be commendable, in real terms this has resulted in a department that has focused on juggling already strained resources to serve immediate needs," the report states.