The Burlington Police Department is offering $15,000 bonuses to entice new recruits to join the force.

Acting Chief Jon Murad says the department currently has 64 officers, but it’s not enough.

“We need to rebuild this police department,” said Murad. “We need to bring in new officers who are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work in a great community, doing meaningful, necessary work.”

The hiring incentive is backed by Burlington City Council, which set aside money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to fund it. The council also recently raised the cap of officers to 87, which Murad says brings funding back to where it was in June 2020.

“This is an acknowledgement that we needed to rebuild, an acknowledgement that we needed to restaff, and an acknowledgement that we are invested in our police department,” said Murad.

Murad says an officer is currently attending the Vermont Police Academy, the first new hire by the department since March 2020. The department is also developing other positions, such as community support liaisons, that are not sworn or armed officers.

“I think that the idea of offering this incentive to get new people in our door is a really really terrific one. It’s one that we fought for for a while,” said Murad. “It’s one that the city council granted use to address the situation we’re in, which is that we are not adequately staffed right now to do what we need to do for the community that we serve.”

Murad said the starting salary for a new officer is $63,000.