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Police awarded funding for six new officers

MEDIA RELEASE

The county has been awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to hire six additional police officers, Mayor Billy Kenoi announced.

The COPS grant application process is highly competitive, and the County of Hawaii was awarded $1,392,336 to cover salaries and benefits for six officers for three years. A total of $243 million was awarded to communities across the nation, according to an announcement by the Department of Justice.

“The six additional positions for the County of Hawaii will be used to add officers and increase patrols in the Puna District and other rural districts where the populations have been growing, and where the demand for police services has grown,” Kenoi said. “This will help to protect the public, and make our communities safer. We want to thank the Department of Justice, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and our entire Congressional delegation for this assistance.”

Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said the funding will be used to hire, train and field the officers, who will be deployed to rural areas that have shown the largest increases in calls for service.

“Especially in these difficult economic times, this grant represents an important boost for public safety,” Kubojiri said. “We have asked our officers to do more with less, and they have responded. We have seen an overall decline in reported crimes in the county over the last decade, but there are some areas including Puna that have seen an increase in calls for service. There is much more to be done, and the entire community will benefit from these additional police officers.”

The last increase in the number of police officers in the county was in 2004, when 10 officers were added in Kona, and five were added in Puna, Kubojiri said. The police department now has 432 authorized sworn officer positions, including eight vacant positions.

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