By Karen Morfitt
DENVER (CBS4) – Since the start of the year, there have been more than a dozen shootings involving law enforcement officers. Fourteen since Jan. 1.
Now local department leaders are speaking out about the climate officers are facing.
The consensus is that suspects are increasingly willing to engage with the police.
“These officers continued to do their job. They continue to do what they’re sworn to do. They continue to protect this community protect those who can’t protect themselves,” said Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz.
At a press conference on Monday, Metz spoke about an incident his officers were involved in over the weekend. What started as a routine traffic stop ended in gunfire and the suspect dead.
“The climate right now is obviously something very concerning,” he said.
Concerns that have grown steadily after three Colorado deputies died in the line of duty in just a matter of weeks.
“There does seem to be a little bit more disrespect for law enforcement officers,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Shrader.
Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh echoed those sentiments.
“There used to be a healthy respect for law enforcement and a healthy respect for authority, but it is absolutely gone,” he said.
McIntosh leads one of the three Colorado departments now grieving a loss.
“To be in a day in age where they have absolutely no regard for who it is they are going to pull a gun on and shoot at, that’s the thing that’s most concerning to us,” he said.
While there will always be an inherent risk that comes with the job, law enforcement agencies across Colorado are starting to look at what needs to change going forward.
“We want to make sure people are appropriately trained, appropriately equipped, and that we are providing appropriate backup,” Shrader said.
The number of officer-involved shootings was compiled from information CBS4 received over the last month and a half.
It does not include officers involved in incidents with suspects who have weapons other than a gun.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.