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Nov 14, 2013 10:35 PM by KOAA

Delayed Emergency Response Times

Imagine being victimized by a burglar, then waiting three hours for police to show up. Pueblo Police are short about 30 police officers. That's about 1/8 of their entire force. 

After Scott Canaan and his fiance were burglarized, they called police three times before an officer showed up at their home. 

"Up until earlier today I felt like I was leading the investigation on my own." 

The delayed response time is being blamed on staff shortages. 

" It's probably the highest we've ever been short." says Sgt. Eric Gonzales with the Pueblo Police Department. 

More than 23 officers retired this year, four out of ten flunked out of the police academy, and several more have been idled by budget cuts. And it's causing a heavy burden on the officers who are working. 

"There is a little bit of burnout, and you can tell from the officers. I mean they're getting numerous calls to come in on their days off or stay longer. I mean you can only do that for so long." 

So what's the solution? Police hope to hire 12 more officers next year, but that may not do much good. 

"We are short quite an amount of officers, and by the time we get those 12 officers in, who knows how many we're going to lose to retirement? We're estimating three or four, so it's going to keep pushing the numbers down."

Police say priority calls like homicides will likely get the quickest response. Lesser crimes like burglaries where the suspect has already fled the scene, will continue to see heavy wait times. 

Pueblo Police say it could be years before they get back to a healthy number of officers on the force.

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