Burlington City Council unanimously approved giving current city police officers a $10,000 bonus as an incentive to remain on the force.

The payments are part of a plan to send more than $1 million of COVID relief money to the Burlington Police Department. The bonuses for current officers will be made in two installments, with the first one on Nov. 15. Newly hired officers will get $15,000 bonuses, also paid in installments.

“Anything we can do to minimize the level at which we are falling and to preventing us from falling further I think is worthwhile, and that was the nature of this proposal,” said Acting Police Chief Jon Murad.

Murad had originally asked for $16,000 in incentive bonuses for each officer, saying the the department had accepted 16 resignations this year and hasn’t hired any new officers. Murad says there are now 68 sworn officers. Last year, Council passed a plan to reduce the number of officers in Burlington from 92 to 74.

During a public forum at Monday’s meeting, a few people spoke out against the proposal, saying the money should be invested back into the community for mental health and other services. Others say crime is up in their neighborhoods and they want more officer surveillance.

But Mayor Miro Weinberger and councilors agreed that the bonuses are necessary.

CORRECTION: This story originally reported the wrong amount each officer will receive. It has been updated to reflect the correct payment each officer will receive. We apologize for the error.