DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Among hundreds of applicants looking to become Dallas police officers this year are a few familiar faces.

“I’m now back, trying to come back to DPD as a police officer,” said Tiaria Richardson.

Richardson is a former Dallas police officer, who went to work for a better paying department. “It paid more, better benefits, better pension, but for me, it’s not worth it. I don’t get that fulfillment,” she said.

In Dallas, she says, she felt needed. “I’d rather go where I feel like I have meaning, where I’m actually serving.”

Dallas’ three police unions tell CBS 11 News that at least five former officers have returned to the department so far this year, and more are trying to. It may be a sign of changing times.

“It took me one week to realize I made the wrong decision leaving Dallas,” said Officer Paul Brightmon.

As a kid, Brightmon dreamt of being a big city cop, but in 2016 he left the department. When asked why he said, “One word – rumors,” then thinking for a moment he added, “Maybe two [words] – fear.”

More than 300 officers left that same year, amid worries about the pension, shrinking the force by almost 10 percent.

This year is the first since 2016 that the department has hired more officers than it’s lost.

“I was determined to come back to Dallas,” said Brightmon.

He’s realized since that he loved where he worked. Now he’s back and grateful.