COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - It's a frustration for crime victims, and has been for several years: Colorado Springs Police officers not showing up in person to investigate stolen cars and property when no injuries are involved.
Police Chief Pete Carey says he wants to change that by hiring 27 new police officers. Mayor Steve Bach's 2014 budget proposal includes an extra $5 million for the police department. Chief Carey says he can use some of that money to pay for 11 new police officers. The other 16 would be paid for with money collected through the public safety tax.
"I think it gets an officer or a community service officer in front of the people rather than have them take care of the problem on the telephone or on the computer or waiting in the police lobby," said Carey on Monday.
Limited police staffing has meant that some theft victims are told to report property crimes online instead of an officer being sent out to investigate.
Andrew Spafford had his apartment on Chelton and Airport roads cleaned out by burglars and the lock on the door broken.
"My TV, my stereo, my MacBook, even clothes," he recalled. "They took my Top Ramen."
Spafford said when he called police, he was given the options of filling out a report online or waiting for an officer. He opted for the latter.
"I ended up calling at 4:45, and they didn't show up until 11:30, almost midnight," Spafford said.
People shared their stories on the KRDO Facebook page. Kristine wrote: "Both cars broken in to. Had to report it online. Of course nothing came of it." Ashley said: "Had my car broken into and items stolen and had to report online." Teri shared: "My husband's work van window was smashed thieves stole $2500 worth of tools while in front of our home. We were instructed to go online and put in the report."
Carey says he wants to see less of that.
"So that we have a person that actually handles the situation face to face," said Carey. "Those policies that unfortunately we had to go through a few years ago, we're going to try to reduce the number of times where we don't get someone to your home to take care of the problem in-person."
Another issue addressed by the budget is the 5,000 so-called "abandoned" 911 calls every month. They happen when too many people call 911 at same time and call takers can't get to all the calls. The mayor's budget proposal would bring aboard four more call takers.
City council has final approval of the budget. You can weigh in Thursday 10/17 at a town hall meeting at city hall at 5 p.m.