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Denver Police Response Time Slowing, Chief Calls It 'Alarming'

DENVER (CBS4) - The Denver Police Department's response time to emergency, high-priority calls is slowing and Chief Robert White told CBS4 its "certainly alarming."

Figures released this week by DPD show that for the most urgent calls for service -- such as kidnappings, domestic violence, hit-and-runs and assaults -- the average response time for 2011 was 14.21 minutes.

But in recent months, that number has grown, sometimes by almost three minutes. In September of this year, from the time a 911 call was received to the time an officer arrived on scene, the average wait was over 17 minutes. In October it was 16.8 minutes.

"If it's a bona fide emergency and it's taking 17 minutes, that's a challenge for us," White said. "That's not a reasonable response time for a bona fide emergency."

He said he would like to see response times for such calls taking five to seven minutes, not 17.

White contends the problem is not a shortage of officers on the street. White said the number of officers answering calls for service has remained consistent. As of August 577 of Denver's 1,390 officers were on the streets, answering calls, according to DPD figures. White also says the issue is not a police slowdown as he says officers are being productive.

"So why is it getting slower?" White was asked.

"I don't know the answer. It's something we are looking at, doing an analysis. We need an understanding of why that's occurring," he replied.

White said the problem should ease next year with the anticipated hiring of about 100 new officers, the first new batch of officers in five years. He said the majority would end up working the streets.

The chief also said a department reorganization will free up more uniformed officers to return to patrol -- an estimated 35 additional officers who should be hitting the streets next year.

- Written by Brian Maass for

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