Meeting recruitment goals for public safety officers in Colorado Springs

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COLORADO SPRINGS — In a city-wide initiative approved in November of 2017, the city will be adding 120 police officers and 32 firefighters by 2022.

“We have some hurdles to overcome,” said Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Vince Niski.

Niski is confident recruitment numbers will be met, but there are factors that need to be worked out.

“There are some impacts, COVID had an impact with our budget so our November class got moved to next January, the social unrest I think there’s an impact,” said Niski.

Niski says advertising for the police department will begin next month and by then they will be able to get a better understanding of the effects of 2020. In response, the department is willing to increase class sizes within the police academy to meet their goal.

“We are willing to have classes of 72 to get to that 120, sooner thanlater,” said Niski.

Mayor John Suthers said a huge factor in recruitment is diversity.

“We have done historically good in recruitment in Hispanic police officers and while our African-American police officers are slightly below the percentage of the community we foresee that will become more and more difficult,” said Mayor Suthers.

Niski says diversity is a constant priority, but outside conversations need to be had.

“I think our biggest challenge right now isn’t attracting minority applicants per say, it’s convincing families to become a police officers in the US,” said Niski.

He also adds conversations need to be had among the community and police.

“There’s people that don’t trust CSPD, I get that it’s incumbent on us to hopefully educate them and build a better relationship with them,” said Niski.

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