HPD has started a $23,000 collaboration with Kauai comedian Zavier Cummings to produce recruitment videos.

A video circulating on social media shows a man with a ridiculously large, fake handlebar mustache screaming out the passenger window of a Honolulu police car as it flies past. 

Shared on the Honolulu Police Department’s JoinHPD Instagram account on Tuesday, the video is part of an official collaboration between the department and Kauai comedian Zavier Cummings designed to attract young, local recruits to the police force.

“He’s beloved throughout the state,” Officer Barbara Delaforce said of Cummings as she spoke to reporters outside police headquarters on Thursday. 

Four new “police services officers,” shown here posing with HPD leadership, joined the department this week. The program is designed to show cadets what it’s like to be a police officer before they’re ready to become full recruits. (Courtesy: Honolulu Police Department/2024)

Cummings, whose social media handle is @howsdisguy, has more than 175,000 followers on Instagram and 90,000 on TikTok. The campaign will consist of videos showing him as a character he calls “everyone’s favorite sheriff.”

The department will spend around $23,000 on the creation and production of “16 trailers and 10 episodes” with Cummings, HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said. 

Each episode will deliver information about how to join the police department “in a comedic way,” Delaforce said. 

The collaboration with HPD isn’t the first time Cummings has posted videos depicting his goofy character. Dozens of other social media posts tagged #NielePatrol show “everyone’s favorite sheriff” in his fake mustache wearing leopard print shorts and a fanny pack poking fun at the police by doing things like pulling over a driver for not returning a shaka.

Zavier Cummings, a Kauai native and social media content creator, has more than 175,000 followers on Instagram. (Screenshot/ JoinHPD)

“The old school, back-in-the-day where you would look at newspaper ads for jobs, that’s a little archaic, so we’ve chosen to think outside the box and utilize our local content creators,” Delaforce said. 

Recruitment is a priority for the department, which had around 400 open positions at the beginning of the year, according to Yu.

Another initiative launched this week revives an old cadet program by allowing those who don’t qualify to be full recruits to join the department on an interim basis as “police services officers.” 

While recruits must be at least 21 years old in order to carry firearms, police services officers can be as young as 18 as long as they have a high school diploma and a driver’s license, said Officer Cody Kodama. 

Four people ranging in age from 18 to the mid-40s have already joined the program and started on Tuesday, she said.

Annual salaries for the positions are $68,000. The services officers spend Mondays through Thursdays working alongside police officers doing administrative work or “non-hazardous” field duties. On Fridays, they’ll attend physical and academic training sessions at the police academy.

It’s good for anyone who wants to learn more about what it’s like to be a police officer before committing to the career, Kodama said. 

The cadets will be evaluated every six months and can continue with the program until they are eligible to enter the next recruit class. 

Kodama said she doesn’t have any expectations for how many people the program will eventually bring onto the force, but she hopes it will attract a new generation of police officers. 

“The more the merrier,” she said. 

The department has been trying to get more people to join its ranks for years but vacancies have only grown from around 270 in June of 2019 to 407 in November.

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