Steamboat City Council approves 3 new police officers in response to staffing, overtime issues
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Police Department will add three new positions to its roster in 2019, addressing staffing and overtime concerns.
The new positions were approved by the Steamboat Springs City Council and include two additional patrol officers as well as another sergeant.
“Our agency has been understaffed for a while, and there have been a lot of costs incurred by that department because of overtime,” City Council member Lisel Petis said.
Petis, who supported funding the additional officers, said the current staff was overworked and getting burned out. She also said coverage during peak times at night was lacking.
City Finance Director Kim Weber said the total cost of the new positions will be about $275,000, which includes the officers’ salaries and benefits. There is an additional $50,000 budgeted for a new vehicle for the officers to use.
The new positions will bring the department total to 16 patrol officers and five sergeants, allowing the department to come close to having a sergeant on duty at all times, Police Chief Cory Christensen said.
“I can’t express enough how I appreciate Council’s support in getting the people I need to police the community,” Christensen said.
After filling the new positions and two existing vacancies, the department will bring on five officers in the near future.
The new officers include Sierra Weld, who will become the fourth sworn female officer on the force; Michael Yost, who grew up in Steamboat; Cody Armstrong, who started working last week; and Fabian Avita and Braxton Shirley.
The police department paid for three of the new officers to go through a police academy.
All of the new recruits will have graduated from the academy by Friday, Dec. 14. They will be sworn in Wednesday, Dec. 19, at the Routt County Justice Center.
The Steamboat department, as well as many other law enforcement agencies in the country, has struggled to recruit new employees.
“It’s still quite a challenge,” Christensen said.
He said the first of two hiring efforts this summer resulted in no acceptable candidates.
“The last hiring process we had, there were excellent candidates,” Christensen said.
To help obtain more officers, law enforcement agencies, including the Steamboat department, have been paying for candidates to go to a police academy.
“That is a new phenomenon,” he said.
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