Parker police officers are stretched thin until October, lacking in 10 officer positions, according to police department officials. The department has two positions vacant positions. Six officers are …
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Parker police officers are stretched thin until October, lacking in 10 officer positions, according to police department officials.
The department has two positions vacant positions. Six officers are still in the police academy and two more have completed the academy but will need several months of patrol rotation with different officers before they can go on solo patrol. When fully staffed, the department has 75 officers, although Chief David King said he doesn't believe the department ever has been or will be fully staffed.
Josh Hans, the public relations coordinator for the Parker Police Department, said the shortage of officers should not affect the department's day-to-day coverage of the town. Traffic enforcement is one area where the strain will be felt, Hans said. As of the new year, the department is asking residents to file their own private-property accidents online, following suit with many local law enforcement agencies.
“It's a little bit of a pinch right now, and officers are spending more time on calls and in between calls,” Hans said. “It's a rush to get to their next call.”
Hans said the shortage is due to two main problems: the long process the town enforces to become a police officer and the higher standards the town has compared to other municipalities. The department was unable to add 10 positions in 2018 and again for 2019.
King said the shortage is a combination of retirees and officers moving out of state that coincided at the same time. Some didn't make it all the way through the training process and others are on leave due to injury.
The standard rotation for Parker officers is five officers and one sergeant during a given shift. Shifts often overlap for several hours during the day. In the past, the teams consisted of six officers, making it easy to adjust if one officer goes on vacation or is sick.
King said the department prides itself on being closely involved with the community, taking the time to explain things to residents when they respond to a call. King said despite the shortage, the department still wants to continue that, but that could mean waiting longer on non-emergency calls.
“We still want to take the time on our contacts as much as possible to do that educational or community policing and reach out to make sure folks know what we're doing,” King said.
King said another strain on the department is the pay for officers. The Denver Police Department is currently hiring for three lateral positions, offering about $91,400 a year for an officer with three or more years of experience, which can be difficult to compete with. A third-year Parker officer makes about $70,600.
“Inherently, throughout the country, this is happening to many, many law enforcement agencies,” King said. “That does put a strain on staff. It's going to be one of those deals where we probably have to pay some overtime, cover some shifts, rearrange some things we wouldn't have to worry about otherwise on staffing.”
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