THORNTON, Colo. -- The City of Thornton plans to hire an additional 50 police officers within the next year.
The city approved a measure last year to expand the police department’s budget. Around $11 million was approved between 2016 and 2017 to cover the cost for the new hires. The money will go to salaries, new police units and equipment.
"The city as a whole is going through extraordinary growth," said Police Chief Randy Nelson. "With that process, we found the staffing levels were not meeting the service needs."
Nelson said day shift officers were spending around 55 percent of the day answering service calls. The national average is around 25 percent.
"What that meant, what was happening in the Thornton Police Department, we were going from a community service-oriented police to a very reactive policing, and the men and women on the street were not getting a break in mental health like they should have," said Nelson.
Thornton is recruiting officers from all over the country.
This is the first-time Nelson has seen a mass hiring like this. Nelson has been Thornton's chief since 2011. He's been with the department for 41 years.
"The challenge today is finding the right person that will fit in the culture of your agency," said Nelson. "When you hire that many people, what you don't want to do is change the culture of who you are."
The police department will have a total of 232 police officers once the additional 50 are hired.