An expanded group of Colorado Springs police officers is now responding to some low-priority calls that officers hadn't had time for because of limited resources.
The officers, known as community service officers, focus on vehicle burglaries and other minor offenses that would otherwise tie up regular officers for long periods of time and keep them from responding to more important calls.
Twelve part-time officers became CSOs after a class graduated from the police academy last August. They joined four full-time supervisors. Without the CSOs, victims of low-priority crimes often had to file reports on their own.
"We dust for prints and we take photographs," said supervisor Heather Cuthbert, who has been a CSO for three years. "We're looking for evidence out there. We talk with neighbors. We do a very thorough investigation when we're out there."
CSOs don't carry weapons and have no arrest authority.
"Although regular officers are still busy with high-priority calls, I think they've felt a big difference because of the CSOs," said Cuthbert. "Regular officers are clearer from low-priority calls more than they have been."
Gwen Listul left her job at the U.S. Postal Service to work as a CSO. She previously worked for the Police Department in a public service capacity.
"People are happy to have someone talk face-to-face with them," she said. "They just want to feel like they're important."
Cuthbert said the CSO program has been so successful that another academy class is planned for later this year. She said nearly 1,000 people applied for spots in that class.