Salt Lake City Police Department is considering adding 18 officers, but even if the new hires go through, the department will still be below its authorized strength.

The City Council said the department should have 324 officers. But budget constraints and tradeoffs - such as fewer patrolmen for new and improved equipment - reduced the number of police to fewer than 300 by last summer."It looks like we're going to hire 18" officers, Lt. Col. Ed Johnson said Monday. "We hoped to hire 25."

Previous obligations, such as paying for police who took early retirement, prevent the department from hiring the additional seven officers just yet. Johnson said more officers could be hired once those obligations are cleared.

Johnson said the new officers will likely report to work the first week of April for orientation. Non-certified recruits will then attend a three-month course at the state's police academy.

Twenty-five officers joined the department last September - the first class of recruits hired since 1986.