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New Castle County's police force may be growing.

A proposal, sponsored by County Councilmen Jea Street and Bill Bell, would grow the department's authorized strength from 400 to 415. 

The 15 new officers would be hired from a police academy to be held in 2021.

Despite an authorized strength of 400, New Castle County has just 368 officers.  Currently, 22 officers are slated to graduate from the academy that's underway, but the force has 26 officers who've retired or resigned this year. Another 64 officers are slated to retire in 2021.

Councilman Bell called the additional officers critical to his district to meet a growing population south of the canal.

The proposal has County Executive Matt Meyer's backing and is expected to be introduced at council's meeting on November 24, 2020.

“The passing of this ordinance is critical to the health of our department,” said County Executive Meyer. “Over the past four years, we’ve been able to develop specialized units such as the behavioral health unit, which provides benefits to our residents but removes officers from the street. This ordinance will allow us to address these staffing challenges.”

Additionally, the department is offering a $10,000 sign-on bonus to try to entice officers, with experience, who don't need to go through the academy. The $10,000 signing bonus would be applied once an officer is hired, but the officer must work for New Castle County for two years or they'd have to return the money.