HPD considers rotating shifts for officers

There could be changes in the works for Honolulu police officers. The Honolulu Police Department is considering putting them on rotating shifts, meaning their work hours would change after a certain number of weeks.

HPD is looking at it as a way to make all officers more well-rounded, but there’s also concern that having to constantly change their schedule would make officers less alert. Police officers now work five nine-hour shifts and they either work the day, afternoon or evening rounds.

The head of SHOPO, the police officer’s union, says while it might be hard to convince officers that the change is a good one, there are benefits.

“To be well-rounded in handling burglary reports, thefts, robbery, sex assault cases and then, of course, DUI cases, which predominantly happen during the evening hours,” said Tenari Maafala.

He points out that police officers were on rotating shifts until 2000. Back then, their shifts changed every six weeks. It was changed to the current system because it was deemed healthier to have officers on the same shift.

“There are studies nationally with respect to rotating shifts during a short period of time (that say) yes, it’s not really healthy because you’re not giving the body a chance to acclimate yourself working midnight shift into day shift and vice-versa,” Maafala said.

But, he says, if the rotating period is changed from six weeks into three months, officers will have more time to adjust and can also plan ahead. They can also make the necessary adjustments with family obligations.

Any changes to officers’ shifts will have to be presented to the union and both sides will have to come to a mutual agreement. But, in the end, if the department wants to make the change, it can do so.

Maafala says it’s hard to say how much officers will be willing to accept the change. “Whether you’re a veteran or a newcomer, change is had to accept, but I think it’s how you implement the change that could make a difference in having a buy sort of speak where everybody would just go ahead and follow what the chief and the administration wants,” he said.

Maafala points out that Kauai police officers are on a six-week rotating shift and they generally like it. HPD sent KHON2 a statement saying it’s still in the early stages of discussion and has asked for feedback from the officers. No decision has been made.

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