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The Morrison Police Department's staff, equipment and presence in the town were at the forefront of the Board of Trustees' minds as they looked at the 2023 budget.
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Morrison trustees on Oct. 4 decided to participate in a vehicle replacement program, tentatively planned to add an officer to the force and asked about police presence on U.S. 285.
The board also agreed to allow police officers to work at Denver Broncos games when they are not on duty in Morrison.
The Morrison Police Department will start a vehicle replacement program that will change out all of its vehicles in three years.
For $67,755 per year, the town will lease three new police vehicles each year, and it will own them at the end of three years. The town will be able to sell its older vehicles with high mileage to offset the cost of the new vehicles.
Police Chief Bill Vinelli explained that one new full-sized SUV would cost about $47,000 plus additional expenses to outfit it for police work. He originally planned to replace one vehicle per year.
Since Vinelli wanted to make sure he could get all three vehicles this year, the board voted unanimously to make the expenditure in 2022 rather than waiting until 2023.
Adding an officer
Adding one full-time police officer will bring Morrison’s total full-time police staff to eight.
Currently, Morrison police operate 20 hours a day, and the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement from 2-6 a.m. for $66,000 per year. Vinelli estimated it would take three more officers and a police sergeant to allow the department to provide law enforcement 24/7. Trustees said while the goal was to provide 24/7 community policing, they couldn’t afford it in 2023.
Safety on U.S. 285
Trustees said they wanted Morrison to no longer be considered a speed trap on the portion of U.S. 285 that it monitors. However, they noted, people say that with less police presence on U.S. 285, it has become more dangerous with more accidents and facilities.
Vinelli said officers continue to patrol U.S. 285 though less frequently than when Morrison used revenues from speeding tickets to subsidize the department, and they continue writing speeding tickets.
“We need to balance,” Mayor Chris Wolfe said. “We have a bit of a tarnished reputation, but the safety issues are there.”
Trustees asked Vinelli to look into a noise meter and a speed camera to see if there were other ways to fine motorists for breaking the maximum noise level and the speed limit.
The trustees have entered into an agreement so Morrison police officers can work on their days off at Denver Broncos games.
Vinelli explained that the Denver Police Department is short-staffed and is asking nearby departments for assistance. Denver will pay officers directly $75 per hour, so Morrison will not be involved in the payment system.
He explained that working in Denver when they are not on duty in Morrison will allow officers to make extra money in the winter months when there are no events scheduled in the town.
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