Little Rock, Ark. (KTHV) -- There was a special surprise at Friday's Police Academy graduation. Newly sworn in Little Rock Police officers each walked away with a big check.

Graduation day at the Little Rock Police academy took a surprise turn for new recruits of the Little Rock Police Department when Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore made a big announcement.

"Some very good news for you. It is my pleasure to announce that each of you will receive a $5,000 check from me for because of your successful completion of your training," said Moore.

Moore announced a new incentive to attract officers to the department. A $5,000 signing bonus for new recruits.

"I did some research across the country and saw these signing bonuses and thought, this is what we're going to do," said Moore.

The Little Rock Police Department says they are down 50 to 60 officers. After 24 weeks of preparation, 8 recruits graduated Friday. Officer Nathan Lee, the top recruit in his class says he's ready for the challenges ahead.

"I think for a lot of us it's something we've always wanted to do despite kind of how things are going on in the world right now. We all just see it as an opportunity to do what we're called to do and give back to our community," said Officer Lee.

With extra cash in their pocket, Lee says they're looking ahead, ready to overcome obstacles and put their training to work.

"None of us were expecting it. It was a big blessing. I think we were all totally shocked whenever we heard the news," said Officer Lee.

Moore says these men and women deserve it.

"Today is a big day for them. They didn't wake up knowing, obviously. They didn't wake up knowing they were going to get an additional $5,000 this morning," said Moore.

Yesterday we told you, North Little Rock is also offering an incentive for experience officers to join their department.