2013 Police Master Plan Goals and Accomplishments
The Boulder Police Department Master Plan was last updated in 2013 and adopted by council in early 2014. In 2013, the department budget was $31.7 million, and it employed 173 sworn officers and 104 civilian employees. By comparison, the 2020 department budget is $38.6 million (prior to COVID-related reductions) and there are 184 sworn officers and 94 civilian employees. Approximately 86 percent of the department’s budget is personnel expenses.
The 2013 master plan outlined several goals that the department has worked to accomplish over the last seven years.
One of the major initiatives was to refine what community policing looks like in Boulder. The department also wanted to evaluate the Neighborhood Impact Team and apply the lessons learned to approaching public safety in the future. The outcome was the creation of the department’s Neighborhood Policing Area Program, which now assigns officers to specific neighborhoods in Boulder with the goal of collaborating with community members and businesses on public safety issues. In addition, the Neighborhood Impact Team has been expanded to work in traditionally underserved parts of the community with the goal of building trust in communities that may be reluctant to call the police.
Responding to Calls for Service
To better manage calls for service, the department committed to looking at other options for handling non-emergency calls that do not require an officer’s response, as well as reducing false alarm calls. The department has increased its online reporting capabilities, providing community members the option of completing minor reports in a manner that leaves police officers available for calls that require more immediate in-person response. In 2016, council passed ordinance 8123, creating the false alarm reduction program. This program requires all alarms in Boulder to be registered with the intent to reduce police response to false alarms. This ordinance has reduced officer response to false alarm calls by more than 20 percent over the last two years.
To upgrade technology for the department, the master plan identified the need to replace the records management system and improve radio communications for first responders. In 2015, the department used funding from the asset forfeiture account to purchase a new records management system. The new system went live in 2017 and includes the ability to capture stop-related data and manage reports that are submitted online. In 2016, the department, in conjunction with other radio system users, hired a consultant to evaluate the current radio system and provide recommendations for improvement. Based on that review, funding from the Community Culture and Safety tax was allocated to replace the radio system with a new state-of-the-art system. The new radio infrastructure project should be completed by the end of 2020 and will provide all first responders in Boulder with clear and reliable radio communications.
Public Outreach and Education
The police department also sought to strengthen partnerships with social service providers in areas where law enforcement interfaces with human service needs in Boulder. In 2016, the department collaborated with Mental Health Partners (MHP) to bring the Early Diversion, Get Engaged (EDGE) co-responder program to Boulder. This program was initially grant funded but has continued with city funding to ensure that mental health co-responders are available to respond with police officers to calls involving people facing a mental health crisis. In addition, to enhance the department’s response to people experiencing homelessness, two officers were re-assigned to become the Homeless Outreach Team in 2016. These officers use a non-enforcement approach to connect individuals with services and benefits with the goal of transitioning them into housing.