MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Monday that the Memphis Police Department will offer a $15,000 sign-on bonus to new recruits.

The city is hoping to have a police department of about 2,500 officers. Right now, that number sits around 2,100.

They have included a number of recruitment incentives, in addition to relocation assistance, such as increasing the starting salary of officers to $45,623.

Lt. Alvin Davis, an MPD recruiter, says this also comes at a time when many people have decided to leave the workforce during the COVID pandemic.

“With this COVID thing, money has become an issue for a lot of people. So, that will be assistance with that to get you back on your feet and get you back on track wherever you may be financially in your life,” Davis said. “It is a tough job and it hasn’t been an easy last couple of years and then when you see what happened in the tragedy in Collierville.”

John Covington, Memphis Police Association steward and an MPD officer, said the signing bonus is not only a way to recruit, but also to keep officers on the force.

“I think it’s great news, a step in the right direction. This is a time of great competition for police officers, and we want to get up to the the numbers where we need to be,” Covington said.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or an equivalent as well as 24 semester hours from an accredited college or two years of relevant work experience or active or reserve military experience from the class start date.  They must also run 1.5 miles within 17:38 or less, complete an obstacle course in 160 seconds or less and pass a written exam.

“Since 2016, rebuilding the Memphis Police Department has been our top priority,” Strickland said. “These new efforts are a direct reflection of just how important getting more officers on the force are to the City. I’m happy we’re able to do this and looking forward to the results.”

For more information, visit Memphis Police recruitment website, here.