Despite an explosion in applicant numbers, Denver could field fewer police officers this year than last, the Rocky Mountain News reports. The number of applicants jumped about 50 percent last year, to more than 2,400. The police department can train only up to 156 new officers a year, fewer than the 182 officers who are eligible to retire this year. With even more eligible to retire next year, Denver police could be challenged to maintain current levels, let alone add the 41 authorized by the city budget after a high-profile showdown between the mayor and council.
One way to boost the numbers would be to add another class of 52 to the Denver Police Academy. It now enrolls three classes of 52 prospective officers each year. No additional class is in the 2006 budget. Another way to keep up would be to induce some of those eligible to retire to hang on. the city figures that 80 or so will stay on. “It’s always a moving target,” said Deputy Police Chief Marco Vasquez. “We don’t really know.”