Elizabeth City police officers were given a $6,500 pay raise Monday night after the interim police chief described his department’s vacancy rate as “perilous” and warned the city might be forced to contract with outside law enforcement agencies to provide police protection in the city.

Interim police Chief Phil Webster told city officials that the vacancy rate for sworn officers is getting close to 50% of the force. He noted that most of the officers leaving are doing so for better pay with other law enforcement agencies.