Steamboat chief says more officers needed | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat chief says more officers needed

The Record

— The demands of police work are growing, and Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen has given the City Council a head’s up that he will ask to hire for more officers.

"The community is growing," Christensen said. "The responsibilities are growing."

He added that officer training requirements continue to increase.

Christensen cited major cases from this week as an example of how the department's two detectives have had to prioritize their time and make choices.

"We continue to have some larger cases that are coming forward," Christensen told council members Tuesday.

He said one detective had spent four days working a fraud case that resulted in two arrests.

"Those are huge cases to work," Christensen said. "Those take hours and hours and hours."

Then, bikes and accessories were stolen when Orange Peel Bicycle Service was burglarized Sunday.

The detectives then had to stop what they were doing and focus on a sexual assault.

"These things just stack up, but they have to prioritize," Christensen said.

Christensen said that, after a full year of being nearly fully staffed, it has become clear that staffing levels are not adequate.

"This is starting to show wear on them a little bit," Christensen told council members. "I'm going to come to you with some numbers, and, frankly, I'm going to ask for some people in the budget for next year."

Christensen realizes his department will not be alone in asking the council to pay for additional staff.

In 2016, the city spent nearly $147,000 on overtime for the police department's patrol division, which was about 35 percent over budget.

The investigations department had $19,000 in overtime, and community service officers had $16,000 in overtime.

Officers might appreciate the money, but being short staffed has a negative impact on the officers, Christensen said.

He has to deny vacation requests, and there is an issue of officer fatigue.

"… it becomes a morale issue, and I get very concerned about that," Christensen said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland