HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – The city of Hot Springs has authorized a pay and benefits increase for its police officers to address a tight job market.

City officials announced Friday that the city’s Board of Directors had passed an ordinance increasing pay and hiring incentives for the police department. The hiring incentives go into effect immediately and the pay increases go into effect June 10.

With the board’s Tuesday resolution, newly hired fully certified officers will receive a $10,000 bonus, and non-certified officers will receive a $5,000 bonus. In both cases, the bonuses will be paid in a lump sum after six months of service.

All police positions for sworn officers will receive a 12.5% increase when the raises go into effect, making the starting salary for the department slightly over $50,000. Department members will also receive a $2,600 per year residency incentive of $100 per bi-weekly pay for officers who live in the city limits.

Police Chief Billy Hrvatin requested the increases to address hiring and retention issues.

“We have found our agency in a constant state of recruiting, hiring and training of new officers, when it was once something we would only do in the fall of the year,” he said. “In fact, our last hiring list did not produce enough eligible applicants to fill all of our vacancies, and we immediately went back into another recruiting and hiring cycle to find ourselves with a low turnout of applicants again.”

City Manager Bill Burrough explained at Tuesday’s meeting the importance of approving the increase.

“I really support this initiative and this proposal knowing, over the past, really, two years, how difficult it has been to maintain a full police force,” Burrough told the board. 

Arkansas continues to set record-low unemployment numbers. The April report, released Friday showed the state’s lowest-ever unemployment of 2.8%. This came on the heels of the March state report, a then-record 3%.

Hot Springs Police Department is currently accepting applications at the city’s website,