ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — Rockford police are hoping new recruitment efforts will help boost the department's ranks.

The Rockford Register Star reports (http://bit.ly/1FZq9Cz ) the 280-person department is trying to reach 290.

But the department has had trouble reaching that number. That's because strict testing standards, background checks and medical and psychological exams have made it difficult to find qualified applicants.

In January, police officials announced additional recruiting officers would reach out to community groups, schools and businesses. They also added camps to encourage young people to consider law enforcement careers.

More than 500 people submitted applications for the latest round of hiring. Lt. Mike Ahrens says that's more than the department has seen in years.

Applicants are going through physical testing this weekend. They'll know by May if they make the cut.

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, http://www.rrstar.com