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StarBulletin.com

HPD graduates last scheduled class


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

When 42-year-old Ty Ah Nee, husband and father of six, heard his was the last scheduled Honolulu police recruit class, he said he thought, “;Whew, I got in; I made it through.”;

“;Because of the economic downturn, we needed to find something that would provide stability, especially with medical benefits,”; said Ah Nee, who worked as a residential home appraiser.

Despite losing his father in the first month of training and the birth of his sixth child in the third month, Ah Nee made it through the grueling six-month training program and was named “;most inspirational,”; for displaying maturity during times of adversity.

The Honolulu Police Department's 163rd recruit class, which graduated last night, is the last scheduled class for now, but the department has requested funds from the president's economic stimulus package, which may pay for more recruits. The department usually has three to four classes a year, each with 50 to 60 recruits.

After the city sought some belt-tightening earlier this year, the Police Department offered to go without a recruit class after this one graduates, since it is close to fully authorized strength, said city spokesman Bill Brennan. But public safety departments are exempt from the citywide hiring freeze.

“;This is the first time since the '70s our vacancy rates have been so low,”; with 42 vacancies, said HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu, well below the 100 to 150 vacancies in the recent past.

Of the original 30 police recruits, only 17 graduated from the police academy. Half to two-thirds of a class usually fails or drops out.

At last night's graduation ceremony at the Blaisdell Concert Hall, Chief Boisse Correa said this was special because it is the last class graduating of the year and of this administration, and he's not sure when the Police Department will get another class.

Correa predicted the department will have 100 to 150 vacancies by year's end. The department has made a request to the city for another recruit class, which will likely be sometime next year, he said.

The Honolulu Fire Department, instead of using funds from this fiscal year, delayed its next recruit class until September, which falls during next fiscal year. The Fire Department's vacancies fluctuate between 20 to 50 during the year and currently has about 1,100 positions.