Applications to join the Phoenix Police Department (AZ) have increased with the implementation of higher starting pay Monday. Previous pay for recruits was set at $48,000, but in June the city council passed a resolution to boost that to $68,661.

Mayor Kate Gallego tells KTAR the department has 509 authorized spots to fill and the test for applicants had 211 people sign up this week, the most in two years. The new starting pay makes Phoenix police officers the highest paid in the state.

“We are really excited about the response we’ve been getting. People are telling us they want to join the City of Phoenix and we’re getting more and more people signing up to be recruits,” she said. ““We want to be the best department in the state and that means we have to pay our officers fairly.”

The department, according to its recruitment website, also provides hiring bonuses of $7,500 for both new recruits and lateral police officers. In the case of a recruit, the bonus is paid in three parts. For lateral officers, the payout is done in two larger disbursements - $3,570 upon swearing-in and $3,750 upon successful completion of the probationary period.

The maximum officer salary is $105,539 annually, according to the department.