COLORADO SPRINGS — When Chris Ausec first started his career as a Colorado Springs police officer, he had big goals like being the Chief of Police one day.
"I had a really good attitude. I mean, I think I maintained my attitude throughout my whole career," Ausec said.
In September of this year, he and nine other officers left their positions at the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD). For Ausec, he said it stemmed from personal reasons and he thought it would be a good time to try and start his own business.
"It was a hard decision," Ausec said, "I couldn't handle a lot of the things that we were experiencing anymore, so I moved on."
Ausec said when he left, he heard from other officers preparing to do the same. He believes there are issues within CSPD leading to officers leaving and additional staffing issues he says the community should be concerned about.
"It's a sinking ship is essentially what it is," Ausec said about CSPD, "they think they can recruit their way out of this, but the problem is by the time an officer starts the academy to the time where they end training with a training officer, I mean, usually we'll lose probably around half. That doesn't account for the attrition that we've already lost. So it's still a dwindling number no matter how you look at it."
Ausec points to the number of officers currently employed by CSPD. Right now, the department is authorized by the city to have 818 officers. Currently, there are 757 officers, according to CSPD.
"What isn't said in that conversation [is] how many officers are actually patrolling the street," Ausec said.
Chief of Police Adrian Vasquez told News5 Investigates about 56 percent of the department's officers are patrolling the street daily, the remainder make up Investigations and Special Operations.
"I could give you a number and I could tell you, well, at any given time, we have somewhere between 41 and 48 officers on the street at any given time, but that's that's a really basic answer that doesn't give you context to the reality," Vasquez said.
Records requested by News5 Investigates to try and learn how many officers are on patrol were denied due to "operational security concerns" but Vasquez said the numbers ebb and flow and there are multiple shifts in a day overlapping each other.
"Everybody in the city mostly knows about the homeless outreach team, right? How important is that? I think citizens recognize that. What if we didn't have a hot team answering? All those calls for service there and taking that call load off patrol if we didn't have a hot team, we would have patrol officers trying to answer that," Vasquez said.
Data obtained by News5 Investigates shows 261 officers graduated from academies between 2020 and 2023 with an average class size of 43 officers. Of those 261 graduates, we've learned 63 have already left the Colorado Springs Police Department, about half of them before their 1-year mark with the department.
"We do ask these questions, and we don't always get specific answers, but what we know is that we're seeing a lot of people or young people coming into the profession, not really fully understanding everything that they're getting into right now," Vasquez said.
"If we keep losing officers at the rate we're losing, um, I think that our response time is going to be horrible, and there will be people who get hurt because we don't make it there on time," Ausec said.
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