Hayden officials monitoring high demand for police
November 2, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hayden officials are trying to identify the cause and figure out a solution to a dramatic increase in police calls.
Compared to the same nine-month period in 2016, incidents involving police have increased about 30 percent.
"I think there are a lot of variables," said Hayden Police Department Chief of Police Greg Tuliszewski.
The police department currently has four full-time officers, and it might be time for more.
"I think we're past that point," Mayor Jim Haskins said. "I think we could easily use another uniformed, law-enforcement-commissioned officer. I'd be surprised if anyone on the council would tell you otherwise."
Compared to 2014, the annual number of domestic problems has more than tripled to 22 so far in 2017.
The number of mental health calls has also nearly tripled since 2015, to 14 cases in 2017.
There are a number of theories for why the numbers have risen.
"I think there are a lot of things going on," Haskins said.
For one, Haskins thinks there simply might be more people living in town because of a housing crunch up the Yampa Valley.
"I think we have more people living in town with other people because they can't find a place to live in Steamboat, and I think it's going to get worse," Haskins said. "I see a lot of people in town that I don't recognize."
Haskins, who spent his career as a law enforcement officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, thinks the tripling in the number of domestic and mental health issues could be related to money issues and people being out of work.
"People are just having trouble making ends meet, and it creates tension," he said.
He thinks a lot of those calls also involve the same people.
"They get a lot of calls on the same people," Haskins said. "Even though you're getting more call volume, you're not dealing with different people all the time."
Tuliszewski thinks the increase in demand for police services could be the result of residents being more comfortable with the town's officers.
"The biggest thing I'm attributing it to is people are comfortable, and people can come to the police department, and we can give them the best service we can," Tuliszewski said. "When someone calls for help, we're going to try and help them. In order for people to report things, they need to be comfortable coming to the police."
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While there is currently no additional staffing in the proposed 2018 budget, Haskins said Hayden Town Council has reached a crossroads, and they will likely need to do something soon.
Tuliszewski has been giving reports to town council members monthly so they can monitor the demand and need for police services.
"They are very supportive and aware of the need to balance providing the best customer service and responsiveness to calls for service with fiscal impacts, responsibility and reality," Tuliszewski said.