Local News

Two officers resign from Pueblo Police Department

PUEBLO, Colo. - The resource-strapped Pueblo Police Department just lost two more officers - who resigned in just the last two days.

Chief of Police Luis Velez admits, it's created a crisis point.

"We're at a point where we cannot keep our calls for service and stay on top of them," he said.

The department has been working to bring more officers through training academy and increase the number of cops on patrol - something that hasn't happened since the 1970s.

Velez also told KRDO NewsChannel 13's Greg Miller to expect a list of some of the most violent criminals to be released this week.

"Instead of just having the Police Department be aware of who these individuals are, we'll have 100,000 people aware of who they are," he said.

It all comes just a day after a Denver Post article was published that cited the city has the highest per-capita crime rate in the state of Colorado.

In 2013, there were two murders in the city of Pueblo. In 2014 and 2015, 13 people were murdered in Pueblo each year. There have already been two this year as of March 14.

Councilman Steve Nawrocki told KRDO NewsChannel 13 that the crime rate is troubling. He hopes the addition of new police officers, a process already in the works, will improve public safety. He also said he would support a public safety tax being pushed by Pueblo County District Attorney Jeff Chostner.

The Post article is the latest review of soaring crime rates, but Nawrocki and others in the city say it hasn't affected the city's image - citing a 12 percent increase in sales tax revenue in January 2016 compared to January 2015.

He said he remains confident in the Police Department though Councilwoman Lori Winner told KRDO NewsChannel 13 the opposite, and has repeatedly called for the Chief Luis Velez's resignation.

The chief admits the statistics are jarring and hopes to have his changes in place by summer.

"Now is the time to put things in place," he said. "The critical issues are staffing and manpower."

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