Citizens committee not ready to rule out west Steamboat for police station
Steamboat Springs — The citizens committee that is helping the city of Steamboat Springs build a new police station met with high-ranking police officials Monday morning to discuss how the location of a new station could impact local law enforcement operations.
Monday’s questioning of Police Captain Jerry Stabile and Sergeant Jeff Wilson was aimed at helping the committee decide if west Steamboat, which is currently on the periphery of where most police calls originate, should be considered as a potential location for the station.
Although patrol officers spend an average of seven hours in their vehicles during a shift and rarely leave the station with sirens and lights on, Stabile suggested the station’s distance from downtown and Steamboat Ski Area could impact operations.
He told the committee that officers on the day shift usually return to the station about five to seven times per day. They need to file reports and meet with witnesses or victims of crimes, among other things.
If there is a serious emergency like an active shooter situation, Stabile said all of the police administration would likely be responding from the station, so the station’s proximity to the incident would impact the response time.
Committee members learned some other statistics that could factor into their decision on where the station should be built.
Stabile said the current downtown station does see a lot of visitors in a year, and the new station’s visibility and accessibility to community members could influence such things as whether someone decides to turn in a wallet or other found property.
“If (the station) is west of town (and harder to get to), they might leave the wallet or that pair of gloves and set it on a fencepost,” Stabile said.
Stabile said there were 983 documented walk-in visits to the station last year, with an additional 517 visits for fingerprinting.
The walk-in visits ranged from people on probation doing breath tests to people reporting found or lost property.
In addition, Stabile and Wilson said officers outside of the station are regularly asked by downtown visitors for directions and other things like dining recommendations.
The committee is in the early stages of trying to figure out where the best place for the station would be, and it hasn’t ruled out any part of the city yet.
Police Chief Joel Rae and city officials have in recent years told the Steamboat City Council the most ideal location to build a police station is between 13th Street and Pine Grove Road where 85 percent of police calls originate from.
However, members of the citizens committee want to learn more about the possibility of creating a public safety campus next to the Routt County Jail before ruling out a station in west Steamboat.
Some committee members also note there is growth potential on the west side of town, and they are building a station for at least the next 25 years.
“In my opinion, it makes a lot of sense to do a joint facility,” committee member Tom Leeson said.
But Leeson said he also understands the police department’s desire to have a centrally-located station that people can walk to and see.
He said there would have to be “an overwhelming argument” to support the joint facility and trump a centrally-located police station.
It should become more clear in the coming weeks whether a shared public safety facility could become a reality in west Steamboat.
The Steamboat Springs City Council will discuss the prospect of a joint public safety facility during its meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.
In two weeks, the police station committee wants to meet with an official from the Craig Police Department to discuss how that department shares a facility with the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, the Moffat County Jail and the Colorado State Patrol.
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