MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - Muskogee’s city council approved signing bonuses for future Muskogee police officers. Police Chief Johnny Teehee made the initial proposal, hoping monetary incentives would attract officers statewide.

He said police officer applications are at an all-time low.

"It's nationwide,” he said. “It's not just specifically to Oklahoma or even our region."

He said his department has struggled for a couple of years.  Right now, they're down eight, which is almost an entire shift.

Teehee said he knew he had to do something different.

"It could take us up to two years to get fully staffed if you can get the qualified applicants,” he said.

He started researching and found officer signing bonuses do well in Texas. So, he put together a proposal for city council.

"We have a lot to offer; our pay is competitive,” Teehee said. “It's just a matter of getting them to take that step to come to Muskogee."

Teehee is offering a $10,000 signing bonus for CLEET-certified officers and $5,000 for non-certified officers.

Teehee said his department is one of the very first in the state to offer an incentive like this.

"All the divisions and opportunities the big agencies have, we have here as well," he said.

Teehee hopes that's enough to get the state's best officers through their front doors.

"I believe that if we get them through the front doors of the Muskogee Police Department, we'll be able to keep them here,” he said.

Teehee said the hiring process will start immediately, with testing beginning at the first of March.