After years of facing staff shortages, the Youngstown Police Department welcomed eleven new officers into its ranks.

The new Youngstown Police officers are: Ian Rudolph, Nicole Rodriguez, Richard Warren, Dontre Mastronarde, James Fisher, Joshua Hinkle, Sean McKim, Adrian Cortez-Meza, Eleazer Gonzalez, and Kennedy Kelly.

Chief Carl Davis believes this is a significant step forward in bringing the department to full strength. He is hoping that with higher pay and consistent training, the department can solve its hiring problems for the long term.

A young and diverse group, many of them are recent graduates of the local police academies, with one coming in from Tennessee.

Like many departments, Youngstown has struggled to hire and keep officers, who often leave for other departments where pay is higher and crime rates are lower.

So how did they attract such a large recruiting class?

The chief tells 21 News, one big factor was the starting pay, which the department has negotiated with the union to raise from roughly $16 to $21 per hour.

Since most of the new officers are all so young, Davis says he is aware of the need to make sure they are properly trained for the pressures of the job.

Each has had to undergo psychological evaluations and will be working closely with experienced officers during their shifts. 

The chief is hoping to hire nine more officers by the end of the year. The department now has a total of 135 police officers.