DENVER (CBS4) – The first graduating class at the Denver Police Academy in five years was sworn in on Wednesday.
Budget problems have forced the Denver Police Department to run in recent years with a squad that’s 100 officers short of capacity, and it has had an impact.
Response time for emergency calls and non emergency calls is up several minutes from last year.
“Will these 29 officers make a difference?” CBS4’s Tom Mustin asked Denver Police Chief Robert White after the ceremony.
“Absolutely. Every officer will make a difference,” White said. “The anticipating officers that will graduate over the course of the next year should tremendously impact that response time.”
White says about 40 officers leave the force each year, but another graduating class in November will mean a net of 20 new officers. All will be on the streets in high crime areas.
“They will all be in patrol, which means they will all be in the neighborhoods policing,” White said.
The department has been rocked by several high profile scandals in recent years, including a police beating case at the Denver Diner in 2009. That settlement this year cost the city $360,000. (Full Coverage)
White says all new graduates have taken a sensitivity course designed to change the culture at the department.
“(It teaches them) the importance of really connecting with the community. The importance of treating everybody with dignity and respect,” he said.
A total of 80 to 100 new grads are expected next year. The goal is to have a fully staffed department of more than 1,400 police officers by 2015.