NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol now has one of the highest starting law enforcement salaries in the state, and the pay increase has paid off when it comes to recruitment.

THP recently raised its starting salary for both new cadets and lateral transfers from $46,000 and $48,000 per year respectively, to $65,000 per year.

After raising its starting salary, the agency received a record 1,026 applications for the most recent cadet class. Some of the THP hopefuls were new to law enforcement, but many were experienced local and out-of-state officers interested in leaving their departments to become a trooper.

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“When it comes down to the quality of life and being able to provide for your family without having to wonder if you’re going to meet your monthly bills, this gives people a little more reassurance and a cushion for them to continue to work in a profession that they love to do and for them to be compensated for that,” THP captain over recruitment, Krystal Thaxter said of the pay increase.

News 2 compared THP’s starting base salary to surrounding agencies.

According to the Metro Nashville Police Department’s website, recruits are paid $45,044.65 while they’re in the academy. Their base salary increases to $50,054.02 per year after six months with a field training officer.

Brentwood trainees are paid a minimum of $58,873 per year, which includes a new $2,400 transporation stipend and $480 communication allowance added in, according to a city spokesperson. Officers’ salaries increase to at least $63,075 per year once they’re certified.

In Clarksville, the city’s website shows officers are paid $46,097 after graduating from the police academy.

New Mt. Juliet police trainees are paid $49,686, according to the department’s website. After six months, their base salary increases to $50,909.

As Tennessee’s population continues to grow, so does the need for more THP troopers. The state’s budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2023, added 100 new THP positions.

On Wednesday, Governor Bill Lee‘s office released a recruitment video pitching Tennessee Highway Patrol to officers across the nation explaining why they should leave their departments for THP.

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Thaxter told News 2 the recent starting salary increase is just one perk that will draw new recruits to THP.

“We had a lot of calls from people previously who wanted to do the job, but the pay just wasn’t where they needed to be, whether it was to move their family across the state or from a different state here in Tennessee, so this has really given us the opportunity to attract more qualified applicants and people who really want to do the job,” Thaxter said.

THP is accepting applications for its February cadet class. The application window closes on Oct. 23. Click here to learn more.