How to Become a Criminal Investigator with the Honolulu
Police Department

The Honolulu Police Department (HPD) has jurisdiction over the whole island of Oahu and is the 20th largest police department in the country. Detectives with its Criminal Investigative Division (CID) investigate serious crimes through nine details that specialize in:

  • Murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Domestic violence
  • Child abuse
  • Auto theft
  • Financial fraud and forgery
  • White collar crimes


Becoming a Detective with the Honolulu Police Department

The first step to becoming a detective with the HPD is to join the department as a Metropolitan Police Recruit (MPR). Those selected become Metropolitan Police Officers (MPOs) after a one-year probationary period and can then subsequently be promoted to become criminal investigators.

Meeting Requirements – Basic requirements include:

  • A valid driver’s license (must be a type 3 Hawaii license by the date of hire)
  • High school diploma – applicants often pursue a degree in criminal justice, forensics or law enforcement
  • At least 20 years old
  • Meet the federal and state requirements to possess firearms
  • Eligible to work in the U.S.:
    • U.S. citizen, permanent resident alien, or national
    • Non-citizen who has unrestricted employment authorization

Joining the HPD starts with the submission of an online application at the Department of Human Resources (DHR) website when jobs are being advertised. When this is not the case, applicants can submit an online interest card, so they can be notified by email when the department is hiring police recruits.

Written Test – The DHR will notify qualified applicants to schedule themselves to take the Civil Service written exam. Applicants will receive a letter 7-10 days before the date advising them when and where to go to take the multiple choice exam. It assesses the following areas:

  • Observation and memory
  • Reading and understanding written information
  • Reasoning/analytical ability
  • Written communication/report writing

The DHR will notify applicants of their score by email. They will rank the applicants by their score and place the high scorers on an eligibility list for a year.

Orientation/Discussion of Personal History Statement and Questionnaire – Selected applicants will be invited to an orientation and will be taught how to complete their Personal History Statement (PHS). Some of the topics covered in this statement include:

  • Traffic and criminal history
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Previous residences

The department will also advise the applicants no how to complete the Personal History Questionnaire (PHQ). The HPD will thoroughly examine the character of the applicants and conduct a background check on them throughout the selection process.

Personal History Statement Return and Interview – The department will schedule dates for the applicants to return their PHS. This involves meeting with a staff member of the Career Center who will review the document. If it has been completed to the department’s satisfaction, they will accept it and give the applicants a packet that contains the PHQ results. This will need to be completed before the clarification interview.

During this interview, the applicants will meet with a detective who will review the PHS responses in detail and discuss criminal history, educational history and traffic abstract.

Subsequent pre-selection steps:

  • Psychological test (written)
  • Physical trainability test:
    • Agility run in 21.6 seconds or less on a wooden floor
    • Bench press
    • 300 meter run in 82.8 seconds
    • 1.5 mile run in no more than 21 minutes

Final Evaluation – A Selection Committee will evaluate each applicant and make a conditional offer of employment to those who meet the department’s strict standards. The following steps are involved in the hiring process:

  • Psychological test (written)
  • Psychological interview
  • Medical examination indicating excellent vision and hearing
  • Polygraph test

Training for the Honolulu Police Department

Academy Training – Metropolitan Police Recruits train at the Ke Kula Maka’i MPR Training facility for 22 weeks during weekdays. Part of their curriculum includes:

  • Community policing
  • Criminal law
  • Defensive tactics
  • Emergency vehicle driver training
  • Investigative procedures
  • Traffic law
  • Patrol procedures

Students are expected to complete homework and study for their exams after hours and to maintain acceptable academic standards. Physical fitness is also an integral part of their training.

Field Training – After the recruits have graduated from the academy, they take part in the Field Training and Evaluation Program (FTEP). The recruits are paired with a seasoned officer for 14 weeks. This officer observes, trains, and evaluates their progress, allowing the recruits to respond to real-world situations while being closely monitored.

4th Watch – Once recruits have completed their FTEP, they spend about 14 weeks on foot patrol in Waikiki and Chinatown. After this, they become Metropolitan Police Officers.

Higher Education Reimbursement Program – The HPD strongly believes in the importance of higher education in developing leadership skills. Full-time HPD employees who successfully complete a course in higher education are reimbursed for a portion of their textbook and tuition costs.

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