The Hawaii Department of Public Safety is moving to increase the number of state sheriffs in preparation for the creation of the new state Department of Law Enforcement next year.

The Department of Public Safety is looking for applicants willing to serve on all islands. The job pays between $4,184 and $6,437 a month, and recruitment for the next class closes on Nov. 25.

The recruitment effort comes as the Honolulu Police Department faces a chronic shortage of police officers with about 350 vacancies. The sheriff’s department will be competing in the same job pool as it looks to expand by Jan. 1, 2024, when the new agency is expected to become operational.

“The Sheriff Division ohana is growing and we are working hard to fill multiple positions throughout the state,” State Sheriff William Oku Jr. said in a press release on Monday.

Hawaii has more than 300 sworn sheriffs. Their duties are to protect the State Capitol, all state courts and other state facilities; provide process services and execution of court documents; handle detainees; and provide law enforcement at the airports.

“The division is going to be growing soon because of the new Department of Law Enforcement. We are looking to fill current vacant positions and eventually start that process,” said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.

These current positions were authorized prior to the creation of the Department of Law Enforcement and fall under the Sheriff Division, Schwartz said.

In July, Gov. David Ige signed House Bill 2171, now Act 278, establishing the Department of Law Enforcement. At the time Ige said Hawaii is the only state in the country without a centralized, independent state law enforcement agency and the new department will allow more efficient and effective emergency responses, criminal law enforcement, investigations and homeland security operations.

The new DLE will include the Department of Public Safety’s Law Enforcement Division, which comprises the State Sheriff Division and the Narcotics Enforcement Division in addition to the Internal Affairs Office, Department of Transportation Harbors Division and the Department of the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigative Division. The new department will also include the Department of Defense Office of Homeland Security and the Hawaii State Fusion Center.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will become a separate entity to handle the jails and prisons.

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