Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden says he expects the police department’s ranks to shrink for another year or so, even though the size and number of police academy classes have increased and hundreds of “qualified candidates” are expressing interest in the department every month.

The department has 135 fewer officers than the 1,000 authorized, Eden said, and the number who will become eligible to retire will outpace police academy graduates until about January 2017. A police spokeswoman said police officials anticipate the number of officers on the force will hover around 850 or just below that.

There is no way to add enough new officers to offset retirements, Eden told the Albuquerque Journal, because selecting, vetting and training applicants is a lengthy process.