COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) — Significant growth and a staffing shortage are resulting in longer police response times in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski is asking the community for patience as his agency works to address the issue.
The response times for where someone is in immediate danger are nearly a minute longer than they were in January.
At the beginning of 2021, it took Colorado Springs officers roughly 11 minutes on average to respond to top priority calls.
Recent numbers show it takes nearly a minute longer for officers to respond to those same urgent calls when someone is in immediate danger, with an average of 11 minutes and 51 seconds response time.
“There are multiple reasons for our lengthy response times. Number one, the number of calls we have coming into our communications center have increased over the years because of the increased population. So we have a higher number of calls coming in that we have to respond to. Number two the biggest concern I have is our staffing,” Chief Vince Niski said.
Right now, Colorado Springs Police Department is operating with about 100 fewer officers than it has the capacity for. CSPD currently has the funding for 786 sworn police personnel, but only has 702 officers.
Out of that total, 24 are recent graduates from the police academy and are still in training.
Niski tells 13 Investigates it has been more challenging to recruit and retain officers recently.
“I think some of our employees did leave because of the social unrest toward law enforcement and they no longer wanted to deal with it," Niski said.
The dispatch center is also facing a major shortage.
“What I am trying to ask our community to do is to have some patience with our employees. It’s not their fault that they are answering the phones in a lengthy period of time. It’s not their fault that they aren’t getting to your calls right away. It’s just the mass volume that we’re dealing with right now with the number of people that we have,” Niski explained.
Department leadership is considering other ways to respond to calls including scheduling appointments or taking reports virtually.
“We’re looking at different ways to lessen the burden in patrol and detectives by using our civilian staffing and actually building our civilian staffing in 2022 to help us to do that,” Niski said.
In 2022, CSPD will have the funding to have 803 sworn police personnel. Niski says that goal may be met by the end of next year.
The CSPD Chief of Police also plans to ask the mayor soon for more funding to hire even more officers to keep up with the city’s growth.