Oct 3, 2022 - Politics

How Denver police want to pay for new cops

Illustration of money falling out of a wallet with a police badge

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Denver Police Department is asking for $8.4 million from the city's 2023 spending plan to recruit 188 police officers, a figure that would include new hires and vacancy replacements.

Why it matters: The department is struggling to fill open roles as it faces a 10.6% vacancy rate among uniformed officers.

  • Data shows the department has lost 104 officers so far this year to retirements and resignations, and lost 145 officers last year.
  • Staffing shortages are affecting response times, interim police chief Ron Thomas told Denver City Council members during a budget hearing on Friday.

By the numbers: The requested funding includes: $5.72 million for two new basic recruit classes of 104 police officers total, and $2.63 million for additional academy classes for 64 police officers and 20 later recruits (officers hired from other departments).

  • The department's request includes adding 43 new officers to increase its authorized strength — meaning the number of officers it's budgeted to have — by 3%, from 1,596 to 1,639 starting in December 2023.

Reality check: "We're not going to hire 188 officers this year, that's just not going to happen, as much as I might like it to," Thomas said Friday, referring to the upcoming year.

Of note: The department wants to hire two forensic scientists in anticipation of an uptick in demand for fentanyl testing due to a controversial new bill making possession of smaller amounts of the drug a felony.

  • The department is asking for $214,800 for two permanent positions.
  • Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, who works closely with police, wants to add four positions to help probe fentanyl cases.

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