DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver metro’s two largest metro locations for violent crime are still suffering police shortages.
Denver-area police have continued facing shortages in 2022 after recruitment and retention problems deepened after 2020. Force strength is down overall and quit rates are high.
Police departments across the state are trying new recruitment tactics, raising pay scales and offering bonuses to coax more cadets into city academies. The City of Aurora approved a $10,000 retention bonus at the end of 2021, along with a $6,000 hiring bonus and relocation packages for new recruits.
Forces are short in four of the state’s largest departments. Denver and Aurora, which together accounted for more than half the violent crime among Colorado’s cities in the first quarter of this year, are down equivalent amounts of officers.
By far the largest shortage is the Denver Sheriff Department, which operates the jail in Colorado’s largest and highest-crime city. The department provided figures in June — they were 281 deputies short of their fully authorized strength.
The Denver Police Department has the next-highest shortage. As of August, the department is 168 officers short of its authorized strength, including 64 cadets who are not taking service calls.
The Aurora Police Department is short 40 officers, while the Colorado Springs Police Department was short 20 as of figures provided this spring.
Some of these departments have fewer officers now than even several years before the pandemic.
The actual size of both Denver’s and Aurora’s police departments peaked in 2020 and are currently below their size from 2018.
Denver’s police strength is currently 1,492, down from 1,606 in 2020 — a 7% drop. Aurora’s declined by 7% as well over the same period, dropping from 759 to 704.
The opposite happened in Colorado Springs’ department. Police numbers have risen 9% from 2020.