DENVER (CBS) – After a deadly shooting that took place while the victim was on the phone with emergency dispatchers, Denver ordered its independent audit committee to look at how long it takes police officers to respond.
What it found was response times have increased overall, highlighting a need for more officers and resources in the city.
“I can’t give you an exact but number what I can tell you is, everybody generally agrees we need to get a bigger police department,” said Commander Matt Murray with the Denver Police Department.
The report found from 2008 to 2013, the departments priority call response time increased from 11.4 minutes to 14.3 minutes.
At the same time, the police force shrank by 225 officers. Auditors believe the loss of those officers led to the increase in the length of response times.
The report came after the shooting death of Kristine Kirk in her home in Observatory Park. The average response time for that neighborhood is nearly 16 minutes.
The night of her death, it took officers 13 minutes, but 12 minutes into the call — while Kirk was still on the phone with a dispatcher — Richard Kirk allegedly shot and killed his wife.
In that case, the dispatcher failed to verbally inform officers Richard Kirk had taken a gun from the safe.
That dispatcher has resigned but the case did prompt the review of response times.
Unlike fire departments, there are no standards for police response times.
The department does say it needs to improve.
“As we get additional resources,” said Division Chief David Quinones. “We’ll continue to allocate those resources based on need and we’ll look at response times.”
Since taking the job in 2011, Chief Robert White has cut about $3 million a year from the budget but said much of it was trimming fat including reallocating positions.
In a letter to the community, he said response times have started to trend downward since 2012 when the changes actually began and there was an increase cases being cleared.
White also pointed out since votes passed Measure 2A, more than 200 police recruits have entered and/or will graduate from the Denver Police Academy by the end of the year.