NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk Police Department is bringing in new recruit classes nearly every four months to fill their 227 vacancies.

Early this month, Norfolk Police told 10 On Your Side the police department had 250 vacancies. The city and police department have made strides to close the gap, including better pay for officers.

“It’s no secret that the police department is down a number of employees,” MPO Matt Burnham, a Norfolk Police Training Instructor, said. “Pay is a major driving factor of not only attracting people but keeping people here.”

Starting officers make around $52,000 out of the academy, which is a $3,000 increase from previous years.

It also takes stronger recruiting to get recruits prepared. Norfolk has since ncreased the frequency of police academies.

Luckily, MPO Burnham said the police department is seeing more people apply.

“We have definitely seen an increase in applications and the size of the classes,” he said.

In the academy, the recruits had to master defensive tactics, defensive driving and other training on ethics and firearms. Each recruit learns around 1,200 objects and has to pass a physical or written assessment with a perfect score.

Burnham said they are all well-prepared after the 26 weeks of training.

“Citizens of Norfolk ask a lot of us. We ask a tremendous amount from them. Whether it is achieving perfect scores on firearms. Perfect scores on academic test. We hold them to the highest standard,” MPO Burnham said. “We have to make sure we put the best product possible for the citizens of Norfolk and really Hampton Roads generally.”

Benjamin Thrope is following in his grandfather’s footsteps. He will be a Norfolk Police Officer soon.

“I have always really liked the law enforcement aspect of community policing reaching out and helping the communities. It’s a family calling,” Thrope said.

He has three months of hands-on patrol training left but once he completes the next phase, he will be on his own patrolling and helping Norfolk communities.

“Being able to patrol that neighborhood and get to know the people understand what tools and resources they may need for their benefit. I believe I can help do that,” he said.

Dylan Mitculita served his country in the military and now he is looking to serve the Norfolk community.

“It’s not all about using the tools on your belt. It is more about talking to people. People sometimes all they want is someone to talk to not necessarily to solve their problems,” he said.

Norfolk Police Academy Class 111 is the next class set to graduate in December, which will have 18 recruits will graduate.

To learn more about being an NPD officer, click here.