The city's police and fire departments are delaying their recruit classes in an effort to save money.
Both departments said they have relatively few vacancies, so public safety will not be jeopardized.
Usually, the city's public safety departments are practically immune from budget cuts. However, with the city facing a $50 million budget shortfall, the mayor has asked the fire and police departments to reign in spending.
At the police-training center in Waipahu, 17 members of the Honolulu Police Department's recruit class practiced driving on this training course on Friday.
It will be the last recruit class for a while. Another class set to begin next week has been postponed and a second recruit class scheduled for July will also likely be put off to save money.
"We're going to just delay it for now until the budget situation clears up a little bit more," Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said.
Five years ago, HPD suffered from a big staffing shortage -- more than 200 vacancies. Now, the vacancies have shrunk to just 22 out of 2,100 positions.
"There doesn't seem to be that critical shortage of manpower that has plagued them in the past," Hannemann said.
With police recruits paid annual salaries of $45,600, their expenses can add up quickly.
"I love it when we're able to bring new police officers on board and new firefighters, but as soon they go to recruit school, we got to put them on the city salary by paying for their wages," the mayor said.
The fire department was scheduled to have a recruit class start in February of this year, but HFD's training course was inactive on Friday, because it postponed that recruit class of about 30 people until August.
"This helps to balance books in a fiscal year, but it also helps to save money by cutting back on some operating costs," Capt. Terry Seelig said.
HFD has about 50 vacancies out of roughly 1,100 positions, down from their normal vacancy rate of 60 to 75 positions.
"It hasn't really had any impact on our ability to serve the public or the safety of the firefighter," Seelig said.
Both departments said they will be able to offer more recurring training for existing officers and firefighters while the recruit classes are on hiatus.
City officials said fire and police vacancy rates are low because pay has increased in recent years while other jurisdictions on the mainland that used to hire away people have hit hard financial times and are actually laying off cops and firefighters.
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