logo

How to Become a Police Officer in Hawaii

Known for its beautiful landscapes and warm climate, Hawaii is an attractive place to start a career in law enforcement. In addition to its inviting locale, Hawaii has one of the lowest state unemployment rates in the nation, at 2.5%.1 Over 2,700 sworn personnel work in Hawaii’s seven major law enforcement agencies.2 Hawaii is the only US state that does not currently have statewide police standards, as its Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) was only created in mid-2018 and is in the process of setting police standards. This means that the requirements to become a Hawaii police officer vary by agency and jurisdiction. However, most law enforcement agencies in Hawaii have similar basic standards, which you will find outlined below.

Hawaii Police Officer Requirements

The Honolulu Police Department, the Hawaii County Police Department, the Maui County Police Department and the Kauai Police Department are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA). To achieve and maintain CALEA accreditation, agencies must adhere to a number of standards that apply to those who wish to become a police officer. These include provisions that officer candidates must complete:

  • A medical examination
  • A psychological screening
  • A background investigation which includes verification of qualifying credentials, a review of any criminal record, and verification of at least three personal references
  • A recruit training academy that meets widely-held police standards

In addition, sworn officers must comply with state laws regarding the carrying of firearms. As a result, the minimum age to become a police officer in Hawaii is 21, and applicants may not have any domestic violence convictions on their records. However, certain jurisdictions may begin the hiring process with recruits who are 20 years of age; the Honolulu Police Department, for example, hires recruits at the age of 20 so long as those recruits are 21 at the time of graduation from training.

Other common requirements for Hawaii police officers include:

  • Holding a valid driver’s license
  • Holding a high school diploma or GED, though some jurisdictions accept substantial equivalents
  • Ability to prove US citizenship, though some jurisdictions accept applications from non-citizens with employment authorization

Hawaii Trooper or Highway Patrol Requirements

Due to its geography, Hawaii does not have a state highway patrol structured as a single unit as do other states in the contiguous US. Instead, police departments within each of the five counties in the state take responsibility for highway patrol within county boundaries. As there are currently no statewide standards for police officers, requirements for those who wish to become Hawaii trooper or highway patrol officers vary by jurisdiction.

County of Maui

The County of Maui Police Department (MPD) includes six patrol districts. The department employs approximately 477 sworn and non-sworn personnel.3 The Maui PD continually recruits for police officers for highway patrol and other duties, and seeks candidates who:

  • Are at least 20 years of age
  • Are US citizens, nationals, or permanent resident aliens; or who otherwise qualify for unrestricted US employment and can become Hawaii residents within 30 days of hire
  • Meet physical agility requirements, including vision correctable to 20/20
  • Possess a valid driver’s license equivalent to the State of Hawaii Type 3 license
  • Can pass the department’s standardized psychological, polygraph, and written exams

The selection process prefers candidates who are knowledgeable about the social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds of Maui residents as well as the geography of the county. Maui County police officers start at a salary of $5,259 per month, or $63,108 per year.3

Hawaii Police Department

The Hawaii Police Department (HPD) serves the County of Hawaii, which encompasses the area popularly known as the Big Island. The HPD focuses on community policing. Recruitment for new officers for patrol and other duties is periodic on an as-needed basis. To become a police officer in Hawaii County, candidates must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Be a US citizen by birth or naturalization, a permanent resident alien, or otherwise have federal eligibility for US unrestricted employment
  • Possess a Hawaii driver’s license or its class equivalent from another state
  • Have education and experience substantially equivalent to a high school diploma
  • Meet physical agility requirements, including vision correctable to 20/20
  • Meet state and federal laws for carrying firearms, which requires that candidates have no convictions for domestic violence

Hawaii County police officers earn a starting salary of $5,143 per month, or $61,716 per year.4

Hawaii Sheriff Deputy Requirements

Unlike in most other states, individual counties in Hawaii do not appoint sheriffs or sheriff’s deputies. Instead, sheriff’s duties for are performed by the state-level Department of Public Safety (DPS) Sheriff Division. The DPS Sheriff Division is divided into several sections, including warrants, capitol patrol, executive protection, and the Honolulu Airport. Sections are also established for DPS sheriff’s deputies working on the islands of Hilo, Kona, and Kauai, in addition to the DPS base on Honolulu. Approximately 2,200 personnel work for the Hawaii DPS, including about 300 sworn officers.5

In order to qualify for a sheriff’s deputy position, candidates must:

  • Be a US citizen by birth or naturalization or a permanent US resident
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Be at least 21 years of age and legally able to carry a firearm, which means that applicants may not have any convictions for domestic violence
  • Demonstrate reputable character
  • Submit to a background check and fingerprint-based criminal history investigation
  • Meet the department’s physical agility requirements
  • Have two years of work experience demonstrating the ability to correctly use conventional written English

Candidates who hold a bachelor’s degree are preferred, though college credit is not an overall requirement.

Police Departments in Hawaii

Approximately 2,700 police and sheriff’s patrol officers work in Hawaii, with the majority working on the most populous island of Honolulu.2 Currently, each police department within the state has the latitude to establish its own standards for prospective officers, so those seeking to become a police officer in Hawaii will find that requirements between agencies vary.

Honolulu

The Honolulu Police Department’s (HPD) jurisdiction encompasses the entire island of Oahu, which has nearly 1 million year-round residents and hosts over 4 million tourists each year.6 With 1,933 sworn officers, it is the 20th-largest police department in the US.6 Details within the department include criminal investigation, major events, and anti-terrorism intelligence. The Honolulu PD seeks officer candidates who:

  • Are at least 20 years of age with legal authorization to work in the US
  • Have an education equivalent to graduation from high school
  • Hold a valid type 3 Hawaii driver’s license with a clean driving record
  • Meet state and federal eligibility requirements to carry firearms
  • Have no history of felony convictions for crimes of violence at any level
  • Meet the department’s past drug use policies
  • Have an honorable discharge, if a military veteran

Candidates who qualify must apply online, complete the entry-level police exam, and be competitively ranked. Candidates who move on in the process will take a physical fitness exam, provide a personal history, and complete a background investigation interview. Next, conditionally hired recruits will undergo a psychological exam, polygraph exam, and medical exam before being admitted to the police academy for training. Honolulu’s finest earn a starting monthly salary of $5,259 per month, or $63,108 per year.6

Kauai

The Kauai Police Department (KPD) serves the island of Kauai, which includes the cities of Princeville, Waimea, and Kapaa. Of the districts within the Kauai PD, Lihue and Hanalei are the largest by personnel count.7 The department employs approximately 150 sworn personnel and 50 support personnel.7 Prospective Kauai officers must:

  • Be 21 years of age
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Meet state and federal eligibility requirements to carry firearms
  • Hold at least a Class 3 Hawaii driver’s license
  • Be a US citizen, permanent resident alien, or American national

Officer candidates must also be in good physical condition in order to pass the department’s physical abilities test and medical exam and must also pass a written exam testing English language skills. Other required exams include a psychological exam, polygraph testing, and a drug screen. Kaui police officers start at an annual base salary of $63,108.7

Police Training Academies in Hawaii

Due to the geography of Hawaii and the lack of state-level training requirements for new police recruits, police departments in Hawaii typically take responsibility for training new recruits. For smaller police forces, this may involve a greater degree of on-the-job training or facilities-sharing with larger police departments that have established dedicated training academies.

Training academies in Hawaii include:

  • Ke Kula Maka’l Police Academy (Honolulu PD) – Waipahu, HI
  • Kauai Police Department Training Section – Lihue, HI
  • Maui County Police Department – Wailuku, HI

Hawaii Police Jobs Outlook

Job growth for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in Hawaii is expected to be moderate through 2026, with a projected job growth rate of 6.7%.8 Including replacements as well as new positions, it is estimated that there will be 200 average annual openings for law enforcement officers across the Hawaiian islands.8 Many of these openings will come from retirement and voluntary resignations, though departments in areas experiencing population growth will likely add new positions to their department rosters.

Though a high school diploma or its equivalent is the standard minimum education for Hawaii police officers, prospective officers should note that earning college credit can increase an applicant’s competitiveness in the hiring process. Having an associate or bachelor’s degree in law enforcement or criminal justice may also open up opportunities for advancement. Our police jobs board can help you find open opportunities and gain a better understanding of common requirements for available police officer positions.

Police and Sheriff Patrol Officer Salary in Hawaii

CityNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina300$65,950
Hawaii-Kauai Nonmetropolitan Area540$71,320
Urban Honolulu1,850N.Av.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2017.2

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Unemployment Rates for States: https://www.bls.gov/web/laus/laumstrk.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Hawaii: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_hi.htm
3. Maui County Police Department: https://www.mauicounty.gov/122/Police-Department
4. Hawaii Police Department: http://www.hawaiipolice.com/
5. Hawaii Department of Public Safety Sheriff Division: http://dps.hawaii.gov/about/divisions/law-enforcement-division/sheriff-division/
6. Honolulu Police Department: http://www.honolulupd.org/
7. Kauai Police Department: https://www.kauai.gov/Police
8. Projections Central: http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm