RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Inland Empire City of Riverside in Southern California hopes to hire 60 more police officers in the next five years.

The hiring would bring the department back to pre-recession staffing levels and help keep pace with the city’s population growth, officials said.

The 60 hires would include new recruits and transfers from other agencies, reported pe.com. Voters approved Measure Z in November, the sales tax increase to beef up the police ranks.

The city hopes to fill 15 vacancies that were cut early 2016, and help close a deficit by putting the rest in patrol according to Chief Sergio Diaz.

“What it’ll enable us to do primarily is respond to calls … in a more timely way,” he said. “Sometimes people are waiting for hours for a police response to things that are not life-threatening.”

The added cops would bring the department from about 350 to 410 sworn officers in five years.

The city’s police are “overworked and overtaxed,” City Councilman Paul Davis said Thursday, Dec. 29, adding that, “When (residents) voted to pass Measure Z, that was a mandate to me that said ‘Yes, we want to fix these issues.’”

Councilman Mike Gardner said he not only supports the plan, but would like to add 100 officers rather than 60.

As police staffing has dwindled, the city’s population – estimated in 2015 at more than 322,000 people – has grown by as many as 35,000 people over the past nine years or so, Gardner said.