WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Warren Police Department welcomed seven new officers to its force.

Dario Poledica, Anthony Demyan, Zachary Horner, James Johnson, Tyler George, Ryan Young, and Tyler Srbinovich were all sworn in Friday.

The officers all come with prior experience ranging from one and a half to more than 20 years. It’s the largest number of new officers the department has welcomed at one time in recent years.

The officers were hired through the department’s Lateral Police Officer Program, where they were offered a $10,000 sign-on bonus in exchange for a three-year commitment, all thanks to a hiring and retention grant where current officers were also given a $4,000 bonus in exchange for a two-year commitment.

“Agencies across the nation are struggling to find police officers. The fact that we stole seven of them from other agencies is kind of leaving them in the lurch now, but it’s filling our gap — short-term. Something needs to be done long-term with policing. People need to get back into this career,” said Chief Eric Merkel.

With the hiring of the seven officers, it brings the department back up to 64 officers. Merkel says he’s looking to hire six more, adding that the lateral transfer program will run through November 1.