The average time it takes a Denver police officer to respond to high priority 911 calls has increased by nearly two minutes this year, and department officials say a decline in the number of officers on the force is making it harder to maintain response rates, reports the Denver Post. Spokesmen for Denver police said budget constraints have prevented the city from hiring new officers, which has taken a toll on services. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but it will eventually get better,” said Lt. Matthew Murray, spokesman for Police Chief Robert White. On average, it took 15.75 minutes to respond to high priority 911 calls through the first 10 months of this year. In the first 10 months of last year, the average response time was 14.03 minutes.
Murray said White is moving more officers out of desk jobs and into the streets to alleviate the strain. He added that help also will come when new officers start getting hired as early as next year and when the chief finishes a review of police district boundaries. The department will be able to hire new officers because voters in November agreed to release the city from provisions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which will bring in $68 million in new revenue annually to the city.