BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — People plan to gather outside the Greensboro City Council meeting to rally for higher wages and benefits on Tuesday.

City council members have talked about pay equity for all city employees.

In November, the Burlington City Council approved increased pay and benefits for both police officers and city workers.

Since January, the Burlington Police Department has hired 13 cadets and six lateral officers, who left other departments and came to Burlington to work.

The department has 12 jobs to fill out of 145 sworn officer positions. FOX8 compared this to other agencies in the Piedmont Triad and found Burlington had the fewest vacancies.

“Before the benefits package, our benefits were comparable with other surrounding agencies and even agencies and other states,” said Sgt. Adam Snow, who’s over hiring and training for the BPD. “These benefits set us apart.”

That’s important when departments across the region are looking to fill positions.

Currently, Greensboro is down 119 officers, High Point is down 40 and Winston-Salem is down 150. When officers could go anywhere, Snow wants them to choose the BPD.

“We want employees that are invested with the Burlington Police Department, invested in our city to really look into our long-term career,” he said.

To get that type of candidate, the Burlington City Council raised officer and city employee pay about five months ago. Cadets going through the police academy now make $54,000 per year. Once they become sworn officers, the base pay is $56,000.

For comparison, Greensboro officers make a little more than $46,300 per year.

“After city council passed the comprehensive benefits package, we’ve seen a drastic increase in the number of applicants,” said Lt. Brian Farmer, who works with new hires for the department.

Since December, Burlington has gotten 209 applications, which is a 29% increase over the past year. This means the lieutenant over hiring has more options when it comes to trying to find the right fit.

“Our organization takes pride in ensuring we hire the best folks for the job, and we’re not going to reduce our standard to bring in folks,” Farmer said.

Some of the other benefits officers receive include six weeks of paid parental leave and increased sick leave, so officers can retire early.

There is also an employee wellness option where officers can step away from the force every seven years and take time to recharge.