More than 1,300 people have applied to fill the Grand Rapids Police Department's five open positions.

Leaders say they're happy to have such a large number of people trying to join the department.

The city is offering to pay for select recruits to go through the Grand Rapids State University Police Academy and the training that follows.

Chief David Rahinsky says this is a big step in adding more diversity to the city's police force -- but, he also wants to make sure the department hires the people best able to do the job.

"The size of this applicant pool will be a challenge for us in terms of backgrounds," he said. "We expect after the civil service exam, hundreds of people to get thru that process and we want truly the best of that group.

"So we will invest on the front end making sure we do our due diligence to get the best candidates."

The five selected candidates could be out in the field as early as February of 2018.