SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls Police Department just welcomed 15 new officers but the need continues, Capt. Jon Lohr said in a Wednesday news briefing.

The department has 280 officers but there’s room for 288.

The department has been recruiting heavily since at least 2020. The top permanent post on the department’s Twitter (X) account is a recruitment post from Nov. 18, 2020.

Although the department is recruiting until Sept. 15 for new officers for the next round of training, it’s vacancy rate is better than various departments in the U.S.

A report in Police1, for example, said earlier this year several law enforcement agencies in Georgia were reporting vacancy rates of about 20%. In February of this year, the Richmond, Virginia, Police reported a vacancy rate of 21%.

“We’re fortunate to have a 3% vacancy rate for officers,” Lohr said.

Lohr said the department has not been at full staff since 2017. The department has added sign-on bonuses of $5,000 to help with recruiting, Lohr said.

The local department is also attractive because it has 20 specialty units that offer officers growth and leadership opportunities, he said.

The starting salary for an officer was about $61,000, he said.

City and police officials have said over the past several years that Sioux Falls was committed to increasing the diversity of its police force.

Lohr could not specifically cite the percentage of diversity on the force but said “The last class was one of the most diverse we’ve had.”