Updated:PALM BAY, Fla. —
Eyewitness News has learned Palm Bay needs more police officers to help keep the city safe.
The Palm Bay Police Department is one of many agencies competing for the best candidates.
"I grew up wanting to be a police officer," Ethan Long said.
Long is one of nine new Palm Bay officers. Eight men and one woman were sworn into the Police Department in March.
"Palm Bay is a city I grew up in so I wanted to give back to my city," Long said.
The department is trying to rapidly fill more vacancies.
"In the last year, we've had 19 officers retire and we're not the only city that has this situation going on," Captain John Resh said.
Palm Bay officers must retire after 28 years, plus a five year phase-out period. So it's forcing the agency to look for promising candidates at the police academy.
"Then we're going to put them through a 14-week training program in house," Resh said.
Officers have to pass the police academy, a background check, polygraph test and drug test to get the job, which comes with a starting pay of $36,000.
"It's something I love to do and I'm willing to put my life on the line for something I love," Long said.