The Record

The Record |

Steamboat chief says more officers needed


— 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 or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland


Eric Morris 2 weeks, 3 days ago

What is population growth rate from last increase until now? What is percent increase in new staffing?

Logic alert: The police are successful (i.e. community safer), wouldn't that mean fewer police hours per capita in that increase? The police are unsuccessful (i.e. Steamboat is now Chicago and I stupidly agreed to voluntarily invest a decent chunk back into Steamboat), shouldn't the policies, personnel and focus be addressed before agreeing to reward someone that is admitting failure?


Brian Kotowski 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Newsflash, newsies: spellcheck ≠ editing or proofreading: "... Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen has given the City Council a head's up that he will ask to hire for more officers."

For is the correct spelling of for. But not four. Nor fore. For goodness sake. Fore!


Paul Timmons 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Mr Eric Morris, I am not professing to have read every comment you have ever written, but I certainly am coming away with the perception that you only bitch about anything concerning your local law enforcement . Do you ever support their doings. You tend to lose credibility when all you do is complain. Paul Timmons


Eric Morris 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Paul, I am an anarchist, or voluntaryist. I think everything done by government force/coercion could be accomplished without government and through voluntary agreements. This police department demonstrates in spades why lacking market signals really can lead to unintended and costly/inefficient outcomes. I'd recommend reading some Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Henry Hazlitt rather than my past comments!


Scott Wedel 2 weeks, 3 days ago

It isn't clear why we need four more year round officers. We have tourism peaks and those periods are likely to have overtime and not allow for vacations. Then we have months of slower periods when there should be no overtime needed and vacations granted.

Paying overtime during peak periods makes more sense than having an excess of officers the rest of the time. If you look at the overtime costs, that is substantially less than adding four officers.

Note that 35% "over budget" is not overall police dept budget, but the budget for overtime.

Nor am I particularly distressed that detectives are interrupted from investigating a burglary case. Most police depts don't investigate a burglary much beyond taking evidence and waiting for someone to find the stolen items.


Martha D Young 2 weeks, 3 days ago

Sounds like SSPD needs more detectives.


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