DENVER (KDVR) — Denver has seen a spike in crime and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
FOX31 spoke with the chief to discuss just how long it takes on average for Denver police to respond to high-profile calls. This comes as calls for service are up in the metro.
According to Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, the recent emergency response time issue is a direct result of the department being down 170 officers, which is a figure that does not include administrators.
“Well, a shortage of police officers to handle 911 calls is having a dramatic impact on the timeliness of a 911 response,” the chief said in reference to the battle between a huge workload and a depleted workforce.
“So we actually have about 4.2% more calls for service than our three-year baseline, as well as fewer officers, about 10% fewer officers to handle that work,” Pazen said.
“Originally, the goal was to be under 12 minutes for these high-priority calls and, after the great recession, it was a big deal to get under that number,” he explained when asked about the delays caused by the vacancies in his department.
“But, unfortunately, as we’ve moved into 2022 so far, we have about an 18% increase in some of these high priority response times, meaning more time to get to those calls, or it’s taking more time to get to those calls,” the chief explained.
After talks over expanding the city’s STAR program, a co-responder program where mental health clinicians instead of officers respond to some emergency calls, Pazen was asked if this was helping to alleviate some of the pressures due to the vacancies.
Violence is up across Colorado
Meanwhile, violent crime is up across the board in Colorado and the Denver Police Department is working undermanned to tame it all.
Something that the chief touched on that’s worth noting is that a good amount of the violent crimes they are seeing are committed by repeat offenders.
“So we obviously have an issue in our system, and it is important that all aspects — the courts, the prosecutors, probation, parole, pretrial, have to come together to figure out how is this happening,” Pazen explained.
“How was it that 32 people in our city were killed? And the offender was on some form of supervision? That flies in the face of what supervision is supposed to be,” he said. “We need to get this figured out as quickly as possible because unfortunately people are being harmed in our community. Families are being destroyed by this type of activity.”
One of the potential sources behind this disconnect in the supervision system may be the result of personal recognizance bonds. They are basically a signature bond that does not involve money or property, so long as a defendant appears in court.
FOX31 has reported that several people involved in violent crimes are out on these bonds. Additionally, FOX31 investigators have reached out to the Denver District Attorney’s Office for some context on these bonds and how judges go about giving them out.
They denied our request for comment for a third time regarding this issue.