VERNON (KFDX/KJTL) — More officers could soon be headed to Vernon Police Department all thanks to a newly approved program.

“Officers that are requesting to take time off to take vacations to spend time with family, we have to deny a lot of vacations,” Vernon Police Chief Wayne Hodges said.

The city of Vernon, like many others, is experiencing a shortage of police officers.

“Fully staffed we have 21 commissioned officers, peace officers for the city of Vernon,” Hodges said. “Currently we are, well we were five short, we just hired one and are in the early stages with that one.”

But a new program could be a way of helping out.

“The cadet program, my vision for that was investing in local people,” Hodges said. “People either from Vernon, with ties to Vernon, and for a lot of people wanting to get into law enforcement. The way Texas works is you can put yourself through an academy but it’s not always easy to do.”

So, this program will allow the city to pay for the cadets to go through the academy. Only one problem, you need the city’s approval.

“We as a city really appreciated our chief taking the initiative to do whatever he needs to do to make sure that we provide safety for the citizens of Vernon,” Mayor Pam Gosline said.

In all, this four-month, eight-hour, five-day-a-week program will cost the city $6,000 per cadet. A price Gosline feels is not too high.

“It’s a good investment,” Gosline said. “It’s going to gain more local people that may be want to get into law enforcement, and if we invest in our police officers, I feel that these officers will invest in our community.”

After they pass the program, the cadets would then be required to sign a three-year contract with the city.

“We don’t want to invest in somebody and put them through this and then they turn around and leave,” Hodges said.

Because in the end, the ultimate goal is to protect and serve the people of Vernon.

Also, the cadets will be paid at a reduced rate while attending the academy but once they are certified they will move to the starting officer salary. The four selected cadets will head to the program in March.