The city has committed to adding 120 officers to the police department and 32 full-time positions to the fire department by 2022.
“We promised our voters that we would use funds freed up by the stormwater fee to invest in public safety and meet the needs of our growing city,” Mayor John Suthers said. “I’m pleased to say we are on track to add the promised 120 additional police officers by 2022, with the goals of improving traffic safety, shortening response times and better serving our city.”
With the additional police officers and the opening of the new Sand Creek Substation in June, the police department has been able to increase patrol enforcement and restart previously disbanded units, including its gang unit.
The city added 20 police officers in 2018 and will request addition of 27 new officers in 2021, bringing the total number of new officers to 120 by 2022.
Police Chief Vince Niski said a majority of the new officers would be assigned to the Patrol Bureau, as traffic safety is a top priority for the growing city.
“More officers on our roads and voluntary compliance with the basic rules of the road will help make our community safer,” Niski said.
The police department lost 290 officers between 2012 and 2018 because of retirement, career changes and personal or other reasons and has experienced a turnover rate of about 7 percent a year.
Whether the city can meet the goal of adding 120 officers by 2022 “depends on our attrition rate,” Niski said in a Feb. 11, 2018 interview after he was named the city’s new police chief.
Accounting for attrition and retirements, the fire department hired, trained and added a total of 39 firefighters to its ranks.
The fire department is replacing several fire apparatus to reduce the average age of its fleet and the number of apparatus that exceed their replacement life.
Four Colorado Springs fire stations will receive replacement Type I Engine fire trucks in January. These newly outfitted apparatus will replace aging vehicles, reducing the average age of engines in the department’s fleet from 14 to nine years and reducing the number of engines that meet or exceed their 17-year replacement life from eight to two.
A fifth Type I Engine will be acquired in 2020, further reducing the number of engines exceeding their replacement life to one.
At a cost of $514,000 each, three Type I Engines were acquired through the 2019 General Fund budget, one engine was purchased by the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District Fire Department as part of a mutual aid agreement.
These apparatus will be placed in service at Fire Station 2, 314 E. San Miguel St.; Fire Station 3, 922 W. Colorado Ave.; Fire Station 11, 3810 Jet Wing Drive; and Fire Station 14, 1875 Dublin Blvd.
Also in January, the CSFD will place in service one aerial ladder truck at Fire Station 10, 3730 Meadowland Blvd., and acquire a second aerial ladder truck that will be placed in service in 2021.
Replacing the two ladder trucks will reduce the ladder truck fleet’s average age from 16 to 14 years, and the entire fleet of aerial ladder trucks will be within the 20-year replacement life.
Voters approved in the November 2017 election a dedicated funding source for stormwater that freed up general fund dollars to hire the additional police officers and fire personnel incrementally over five years.
Read more about the city’s progress in 2019 in the Dec. 27 issue of the Business Journal.