JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – The rapid population growth is carrying its burden on counties throughout Colorado, the latest victim being Jefferson County.
Sheriff Jeff Shrader is asking for more than $3 million in the 2018 budget to bring more boots on the ground and pay for surging overtime costs just to meet increased needs. The request comes following results from a study conducted by the sheriff's office that shows a dire need for more deputies.
The need comes as recent numbers show the county's population grew by 30,000 in just the last five years.
The national average is at least two officers for every 1,000 citizens. In Jefferson County, it's roughly a deputy for every 1,000 citizens.
The limited number in personnel has impacted deputy responses to calls. The study shows deputies are responding at least two minutes past their target response time. The rate of the yearly arrests increased by 300 just in the last year and the jail is inching closer to reaching its daily capacity of 1,379 inmates.
“We do a citizen survey and we ask them, 'what do you believe your tax dollars should be spent on?' and a lot of that public safety is always high up on the list" County Commissioner Libby Szabo told Denver7.
But despite public safety scoring at the top, Szabo said she recognizes the urgent need for more cops on the street. Financially, however, the county has decided to fund a little more than half of sheriff Schrader’s request.
“The growth in the county is creating a bigger expenditure than our revenue coming in,” said Szabo.
Szabo added the county's budget isn't growing as fast the population, creating a county spending conflict.