by Mayor Yemi Mobolade and City Council President Randy Helms
Our community is only as strong as it is safe. As your elected representatives, we remain resolute in our support of the Colorado Springs Police Department, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the women and men sworn to protect and serve the residents of our great city. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank our police officers for their dedication, service and sacrifice to our community.
While last week’s vote on Ballot Question 2A fell short of the threshold for approval, we do not believe the outcome of this election reflects our community’s support of our police officers. What residents rejected was the city’s retention of their TABOR refund.
To our residents and our public safety officers, rest assured that your city government remains steadfast in its commitment to our police department. We know that becoming the safest city in the nation takes a multifaceted approach. And this includes listening to our police officers, of which more than 80% are asking for more training. This also includes listening to our community members of which the vast majority are asking for better public safety and more resources for our police department.
Friends, losing this ballot initiative does not mean that we don’t need a new training facility.
The current facility remains woefully inadequate. It cannot support our department’s size or needs, even at a basic level. Our facility does not have adequate space for our officers to receive the training our community needs and demands of them on topics such as deescalation, among others.
Further, the poor condition of the training facility stymies our recruitment efforts, especially when compared with other law enforcement training facilities along the Front Range. The building is a financial liability as it continues to age, meaning expensive and short-term repairs and maintenance on an insufficient facility, which is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
This new facility is an investment in our police department and our community’s safety, and this project is moving forward. We began a needs assessment in July, and the results are expected in early December.
This assessment will help us select the right location, size and scope, and we are actively looking at buying a new building to remodel or building a new facility depending on these needs. In addition, we are exploring regional partnership opportunities.
As for funding, we will be creative in stitching together the resources needed to make it happen. We’ll do this through our Public Safety Sales Tax, identifying places in our budget with the least amount of impact on our immediate needs, and we will look for grant funding. This project will require financing. All of the above would have held true if 2A had passed. Its failure means that we are starting this funding campaign with $4.75 million less than we had hoped, which means potentially paying interest when we go to finance the project.
We believe every Colorado Springs’ resident deserves to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. Every family and visitor to our great city should feel secure, no matter their location. This new facility is just one of the ways your city government is working toward this goal.
Our police chief is actively meeting with line-level officers to learn about their needs, especially regarding training. And we continue to incrementally raise our investment in our Fire Department’s outstanding and nationally recognized work in providing coordinated and integrated care, including behavioral health and mental health intervention and resources. Also, while they are not direct city services, the city has numerous programs supporting affordable housing, economic development and community vitality. All are efforts that contribute to public safety.
Friends, we’re moving together to build a safer, more prosperous Colorado Springs for all.
Together, we forge ahead.
We are Colorado Springs — onward and upward.