AURORA, Colo. — Police departments across the state are struggling to hire more officers. Aurora is hurting so much that the city is now broadening its requirements so more people can apply.
On Monday, the Civil Service Commission approved a request from Interim Chief Dan Oates to change a rule to allow additional lateral applicants, or people who move from one police agency to another.
In a letter dated July 6, Oates said staffing at the department is at "critical levels."
Before his request, the city of Aurora required three years of experience as a police officer at a full-service police department within the last four years.
Oates requested the Civil Service Commission allow other experience to be considered as well, such as time in military police and corrections.
"We need to take every effort to improve the staffing," Division Chief Chris Juul said.
Juul said now, an applicant who wants to leave another agency for Aurora only needs one year of police experience, and the other two years can be other experience.
The Aurora Police Department is down about 70 officers, according to Juul. Many experienced officers are leaving the job, and not enough people are submitting applications to fill their positions.
"Our patrol officers – which day in and day out – day and night responding to calls -- are doing it at reduced staffing level," he said.
More than 40 officers have left the department since January, which is an improvement from this time last year. But being down dozens of officers impacts how long it takes to respond to less serious calls.
"I don't think it is any shock to anybody that the more violent crimes, serious crimes have risen somewhat, and those calls do take more officers to handle and do take more time to handle as well," he said.
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Officers are working overtime, and Juul hopes the change can help the department.
"It will absolutely broaden the pool, so I am looking for an increase there, but it is yet to be seen what that is going to look like," he said.
Around half of the officers who have left the department this year resigned. Others retired or went on medical leave. Two officers were fired.
To encourage people to leave their current policing jobs and move to Aurora, the city is also offering a bonus of up to $15,000.
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