ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — Amid a current need for police officers, the city of Rocky Mount announced Friday it would begin paying starting police officers $60,000 per year.

Several area police agencies have said they have vacant positions, including the Durham Police Department which reported 100+ empty positions earlier this month.

Late last month, the Raleigh Police Department reported 110 vacancies, which is fewer than a year ago when there were 168 vacancies.

Just two months ago, Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said there were 29 vacancies in his department — up from just 13 last summer.

The new Rocky Mount starting salary is a 36 percent increase over the existing rate for new police officers in the city, officials said in a news release Friday.

Rocky Mount City Manager Keith Rogers Jr. said the higher starting salary should improve police staffing.

Two months ago, out of 175 police positions, there were 40 vacancies, according to Rocky Mount City Spokesman Kirk Brown. He added that there are 16 newly hired cadets starting orientation Saturday, continuing training for about four months.

“Increasing starting pay for our officers will directly address our significant vacancy rate and enhance our recruitment efforts,” Rogers said in the release.

Funding for the raises for this year will come through savings from previous and existing vacancies in the police department, Rogers said.

The proposed 2024 budget, which Rogers plans to release in May, includes funding to continue the $60,000 starting salary, he said.

There is no word on if pay will increase for existing officers.