If you go

What: Boulder City Council study session

When: 5 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway

More info: To read the complete memo on police staffing and to see the rest of the agenda, click here.

Boulder police could make responding to quality-of-life concerns a top priority, or they could put more people in the detective unit to solve thefts.

How to treat those trade-offs and what type of police department the community wants will be up for discussion Tuesday night, when the Boulder City Council starts its study session early with a dinner presentation on police department staffing and priorities.

Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said he expects the discussion to be more "philosophical," and the priorities expressed by the City Council members will inform his department's budget request this fall, as well as the department's master plan and how it allocates existing resources.

The police department will present the results of an analysis of staffing and service, as well as steps the department is already taking to follow some of those recommendations.

The consultant's analysis included quantitative and qualitative examinations of the department, including extensive interviews with employees, work groups and ride-alongs.


Beckner said the benefit of the analysis was getting an outside perspective on the department's performance. Some of the recommendations, like changing how the dispatchers prioritize 911 calls, have already been implemented. Other recommendations, like adding an additional commander position, will require more funding for the department.

The report also recommends re-establishing and staffing a community services unit that would include non-sworn officers working on animal control, code enforcement and accident investigation.

The police department took over responsibility for code enforcement in 2011. Beckner said the department may or may not create a formal unit, but it is working on ways to improve coordination among different aspects of enforcement.

Beckner said the biggest issue is deciding what kind of department Boulder wants to be. For example, Denver police will not send an officer if a car is broken into, while Boulder police will send an officer, dust for fingerprints and look for other evidence.

Beckner said that's time-consuming for a relatively minor crime, but it also increases the likelihood of solving the crime and gives victims a contact person.

Beckner said the department spends a lot of time responding to public disturbance calls on University Hill and the Pearl Street Mall. That's important to the community, but it also diverts resources from other problems.

"People get upset if there is a long response time because it affects quality of life," he said. "So you have to make judgments. Something has to give somewhere."

If Beckner had the money to hire more officers, he'd assign the first two to the detective unit. They could be assigned to deal with quality-of-life issues, but that might make it harder to solve and bring charges in theft cases and other relatively less serious crimes.

"These are the trade-offs we have to make," he said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or meltzere@dailycamera.com.