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Denver sees alarming increase in police response times

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen called the current response times – which have increased more than 5 minutes since 2018 – "unacceptable."

DENVER — It's been a frustrating and sometimes frightening year for Jennifer, a lifelong Denver resident who has lived for the past 14 years in the Chaffee Park neighborhood.

Since last September, Jennifer said she has been trying to get Denver Police to arrest a man who she said has set more than a dozen small fires near her home – most recently, about a week ago.

Jennifer said she called police at least three times. The first time, it took officers about 20 minutes to get there. The second time, they never showed up at all. The third time, on Thursday night, it took nearly half an hour, she said.

"If it hadn't been so long, he could have been apprehended, and we wouldn't be having this problem," she said. "It's very disappointing. It makes me feel unsafe because this is a serious safety issue, but, God forbid, there's something worse, like somebody being attacked. The police response time has definitely gone up, I know that for a fact."

According to Denver Police, the average response time for lower-priority 911 calls in 2018 was about 29 minutes. Through the first half of this year, it increased to over 34 minutes – more than 5 1/2 minutes longer.

Perhaps even more alarming, since 2018, response times for the highest priority calls, like those for shootings, have increased nearly 3 minutes and is now about 14 1/2 minutes.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said he's deeply concerned by the increase in response times, which he described as a supply-and-demand problem: Too much demand for police services and too few cops on the street.

> Watch the full interview with Pazen below:

"There's too much demand, with a 4.2% increase in calls for service last year, and a depleting work force, about 178 officers separated from the police department last year," Pazen said. "Every neighborhood in Denver deserves a timely response when an individual is facing an emergency, and it's our goal and objective to meet those needs."

Pazen said a big part of the solution is hiring more cops, which has been a major problem for several years now.

At this point, according to DPD, the department is down about 240 officers, or 15%, from its authorized strength of 1,600 officers.

Zack Newman, 9Wants to Know investigative data producer, contributed to this report.

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