Colorado Springs

CSPD chief to seek funding for more officers

Police chief wants more officers to...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. - Soon after the new Colorado Springs city council takes office, Police Chief Pete Carey will begin what he calls a "full court press" to convince them to fund the hiring of dozens more officers in hopes of reducing response times to an acceptable level.

KRDO Newschannel 13 recently spend a few hours on the streets with the officers of the Gold Hill division in the southwest corner of town to better understand the impact of the current officer shortage.

It was a nonstop expedition.
   
Just after 11pm, Officer A. Flores responded to a reported carjacking downtown.

Even as other officers will still investigation that crime, Flores was dispatched to a domestic dispute involving a man allegedly high on methamphetamine.

As soon as he cleared that call, he headed over to another investigation in progress after a man fired shots outside a bar in Old Colorado City.

All three calls were considered "Priority 1", and while officers responded to them, all other lower priority calls were put on hold.

Ironically, while officers investigated the carjacking, a nearby bar manager asked those responding officers why they hadn't responded to his disturbance involving an unruly patrol that he called in about two hours earlier.

Nate Windham of Lee Spirits said, "It's really dissappointing.  I mean you know, like I asked him, 'What am I supposed to do?'  I mean really, if she is sitting there disrupting my business, can i drag her out of my vestibule?"

Officer Wes Woodworth didn't blame him for running low on patience.

"It's hard," said Woodworth, "it's difficult, because we're constantly running."

Flores understands the manager's frustration as well.

"Whether it's just a simple harassment or a trespassing, or a burglary, that's important to them.  That's a significant event in their life at that point," he said.

Flores says his division will occasionally catch up on all calls by around 1am, but that's usually because people call back to cancel because it's just too late.

"No one is taking it easy.  It's very busy across the board," says Carey.

Back in September, with response times to Priority 1 calls approaching 14 minutes, Carey eliminated the gang unit and other specialized units to boost the number of officers on patrol.

He believes they have seen a positive result from that reshuffling.

"Our latest numbers show that it's about 11 and a half minutes.  And that's a long time, but it's a little better than it was a few months ago when I stood down some of the specialized units," he said.

Carey's goal is eight minutes, which is what he describes at the "gold standard" nationwide for response times.

As of the end of February, Priority 2 calls had an average response time of 19 minutes, while Priority 3 calls averaged 49 minutes, according to a CSPD interoffice morandum.

Those times are an improvement over February of 2016, but slower than February of 2015.

The department currently has 684 sworn officers, but due to military deployment or medical leave, not all are on active duty.

36 new recruits will graduate the CSPD academy this month, and Carey hopes to put another 62 through the academy in July.

That would be the largest number ever to graduate in a single class.

However, Carey still plans to go to the new city council to ask for more.

"Based on our staffing levels right now, we could use anywhere from 50-100 additional officers" he said.

Along with speaking with the chief, Flores recommends the council members come out and spend a few hours on patrol to see the staffing challenges firsthand.

"Honestly, I think it's important that they ride, to see exactly what goes on.  The majority of the nights, it's just call to call to call, and I don't think they see that."

 

Tune in Thursday night at 10:00 for a closer look at the numbers, including how many officers CSPD has per 10,000 people, how that compares to other cities in Colorado, and how many officers are leaving CSPD every month.

 

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