(EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.) — The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) announced the launch of their Community Service Specialist (CSS) Unit, which aims to bolster services in El Paso County.

“They’re actually going to be out in our community every day,” said Sgt. Jason Garrett with El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. “Responding to what we call cold or not in progress, calls for service that are coming in.”

The Unit is expected to enhance the level of service provided to approximately 200,000 citizens who reside and work in unincorporated El Paso County, according to EPSO.

The CSS Unit is comprised of uniformed civilian personnel who respond to calls for service that are not in progress and do not involve injuries to involved parties, says EPSO. Types of calls CSS might respond to include Motor Vehicle Theft, Burglary, Trespass Into a Vehicle or Onto Property, Theft, Identity Theft/Fraud, Criminal Mischief, Lost/Found Property, Abandoned Vehicles and Traffic Control for accident scenes and other hazards.

CSS personnel do not have arrest authority but can file criminal investigation reports, collect evidence and support EPSO sworn personnel in a variety of other ways.

“Kind of the win for our agency is it’s it is going to free up our patrol deputies to be able to engage more in proactive policing,” Garrett said.

Two initial members of CSS began their 140 hours of training in June 2022 by learning Colorado state statutes, EPSO policies and procedures, report writing, interviewing and criminal investigation. They received self-defense training and are certified to carry pepper spray. Furthermore, CSS members became certified in Crisis Intervention after 40 hours of instruction. Additionally, they spent six more weeks of field training being coached by sworn deputies to provide timely responses to emergency situations.

“We are hoping to use this as a means to kind of slowly on-board people who may be hesitant to jump into the law enforcement realm,” Garret said.

But Garrett said they understand not everyone wants to become a Sheriff’s deputy, so in that case, it’s a job where people can feel like they’re doing their part for the community.

“There’s some things that go into the daily life of law enforcement officers, some of the dangerous activity that we face that just don’t appeal to some folks. But they do want to serve in a capacity. And this certainly affords folks that opportunity.”

EPSO expects CSS to expand in 2023. The Sheriff’s Office says they are “committed to providing innovative, valued, and quality service to our neighbors here in the Pikes Peak region, and the initiation of our new CSS Unit further exemplifies this commitment.”