MSAG Coordinator/Program Manager Alison Theunissen works Friday, March 22, 2024, inside the Weld County Regional Communications Center in Greeley. The dispatch center is continually updated with new technology to better serve the people of Weld County. (Jim Rydbom/Staff Photographer)

A $2.4 million police initiative could change the nature of Greeley's 911 response as early as this year.

The Greeley City Council this week for the first time approved public safety tax dollars for the construction of a real-time information center for the Greeley Police Department.

After evaluating the department's use of technology about 18 months ago, Greeley Police Chief Adam Turk realized the department needed to leverage its technology resources to be more proactive in its enforcement efforts. I did. That led Türkiye and the commander. Tanya Gutierrez will discuss the Real-Time Information Center at her March 14 work session with the Greeley City Council.

Turk told the City Council that while police administration has historically been good at acquiring new technology, it remains reactive rather than proactive. By combining these technologies under one roof, he said, police will be able to respond more efficiently.

“We want to be a leader in northern Colorado,” Turk told the Tribune. “We want to do that because we get wins and our investments pay dividends very quickly.”

Turk estimates construction will cost about $2.3 million upfront and the center will require about $700,000 annually to operate, but as the center grows to keep up with inflation and Greeley's population. We expect this number to rise. A second reading of the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2nd at City Council.

The department is already looking for a new location. Turk said they are looking at existing available space owned by the city or space that could become available within the next six months. From there, all you have to do is renovate the building and move in. Officials expect it to be operational in the third quarter of this year.

One of the features Turk is most excited about about the Real-Time Information Center is its increased drone capacity. Greeley Police already use drones and have been for several years.

“From a public safety standpoint, it's just amazing what you can do with drones right now,” he says. “Instead of sending a police officer into a backyard where there are obstructions and no visibility, we can just fly a drone over the area and look for the heat source and pinpoint where the heat source is.”

The possibilities are endless, he said, at least as long as your budget allows.

Turk hopes the real-time information center and perhaps remote launch stations spread across the city will allow police to deploy drones even more quickly.

As an example, Turk said if a call comes in about a major traffic accident on Route 34, police typically respond with at least two officers, a supervisor, two fire trucks and an ambulance. . He said police could make better use of their resources if they could fly drones in half the time and it turned out to be only a minor accident.

Severance Police Chief Ken Chavez said technology has revolutionized policing over the past few decades. In fact, he has changed a lot over the last 10 years or so.

“We're at a point now where we can't function without technology,” Chavez said. “It's part of our profession. It's part of how we serve the public.”

That technology can take many forms, from simple camera upgrades to being able to hear gunfire and triangulate its location.

Chavez said some of the biggest technological advances during his time as a police officer came in police vehicles.

“When I started riding in police cars in the '70s, it was lights, sirens and radios,” he said. “Cars now have computers. We have dashcams. We have radar and lidar for speed detection. It's a very sophisticated piece of equipment.”

Severance Police Chief Ken Chavez works in a patrol car equipped with new technology to help communities respond more quickly on Friday, March 22, 2024.  (Jim Ridebom/Staff Photographer)
Severance Police Chief Ken Chavez works in a patrol car equipped with new technology to help communities respond more quickly on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Jim Ridebom/Staff Photographer)

For example, modern cruisers are equipped with automatic license plate readers. The technology reads license plates seen on a vehicle's dash camera and alerts officers if the vehicle has been reported stolen or has a related warrant.

Chavez said one of the most useful technologies for police in solving crimes is something that every police officer, and almost every civilian, carries with him. It is said to be a mobile phone. At the most basic level, cell phones allow police officers to make phone calls without having to drive back to the station and quickly access information online. On a deeper level, they help solve many crimes.

“We often use cell phone data to commit crimes,” Chavez said. “We use cell phones to track where people have been, what time they were there and when they left.”

Of course, not all police technology consists of familiar everyday tools. Chavez, who spent more than 40 years with the Denver Police Department, emphasized being a shot spotter. ShotSpotter is a series of microphones located throughout Denver that detect gunshots and triangulate their location to within 8 meters.

“If you listen to the recording, you can immediately tell what type of gun was fired and how many shots were fired,” Chavez said. “This allows officers to quickly get to the scene and recover the shell casings, which is an important part of determining the firearm used and who it was associated with.”

Turk compared the Real-Time Information Center to the community's eyes and the Weld County Regional Communications Center (Dispatch) to its ears.

Turk said that the cities surveyed that already have real-time information centers have an idea of ​​how big an impact this technology can have and how the centers can work with public safety systems already in place. I've given one example.

The mother called 911 and reported that her 4-year-old child had been missing from the park they were in for 30 minutes, and described the child's condition and the clothes the child was wearing.

While the mother was on the phone with 911, someone listening to the call at the Real Time Information Center pulled the video from the park, rewound it 30 minutes, and watched the child cross the street and walk down several blocks into an alley. . shop.

Police responded directly to the store and almost immediately reunited the mother and child.

“We would have sent 20 police officers to investigate and look for anyone who may have cellphones or video footage,” Turk said. “This is a smarter way for police. And frankly, that's the future of police.”

No matter how advanced technology becomes, it will never replace police officers, Turk said.

“When people call 911 on the worst day of their lives, they still want a police officer to respond,” he said. “It’s not a drone or a camera.

“So we still need people out there working hard and talking to people. So I want to make the future of policing more efficient so that crimes are more likely to be solved and crimes are stopped before they happen. I'm thinking of stopping it.”

Severance Police Chief Ken Chavez stands outside Severance City Hall on Friday, March 22, 2024. Chavez is one of many police chiefs in Weld County equipped with new technology to better serve their towns.  (Jim Ridebon/Staff Photographer)
Severance Police Chief Ken Chavez stands outside Severance City Hall on Friday, March 22, 2024. Chavez is one of many police chiefs in Weld County equipped with new technology to better serve their towns. (Jim Ridebon/Staff Photographer)

new and improved

This year, Chavez and the department, which was formed in 2019, will have to adapt to the need for more work on the ground as construction progresses on new police stations in Severance and neighboring Windsor.

On a 43,000 sqft property, the Windsor Police Cmdr. Richard Ziegler said the new station will be more than twice the size of the current building to accommodate Windsor's growing population. The new station site also has approximately 10,000 square feet dedicated to expanding the line.

“I hope it's many years before we have to do that,” Ziegler said. “But at least things have been put in place to ensure this building can be used for many years to come.”

Ziegler said the Windsor station outgrew its current station several years ago. Training spaces, conference areas, and other parts of the current station, originally used as warehouses, have all been converted into offices to accommodate the department's growth.

“We're literally hitting the seams,” Ziegler said.

Windsor plans to begin construction on its new headquarters in August and aims to open the new station in February 2025. The building is expected to cost $30 million, including off-site renovations, and will include multiple training and development spaces. , a large multipurpose meeting area, victim advocacy space, both a forensics lab and a forensics garage, and ample office space.

“It's going to be a great facility,” Ziegler said. “And it should allow us to do a better job overall.”

Severance's new station will be 4,000 square feet and, unlike the current building, will include holding rooms, interview rooms and a main lobby that will be open to the public. The demolition of the existing building is scheduled to take place on April 1st, and the groundbreaking ceremony for the new building will be held on April 29th at the same location.

The retired police hope to debut the new station in December.

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