CML reports on police, fire efficiency

VALLEY — The Colorado Municipal League’s (CML) 2018 State of Our Cities & Towns Report looks at the essential services of municipalities that ensure public safety.

The report, based on data from a statewide survey conducted in the fall of 2017 of cities and towns statewide, reveals that both police and fire departments are delivering services more efficiently than ever before.

Corona Insights conducted the survey for CML and contacted each of the state’s 271 municipalities to gather responses. The overall response rate was 39 percent, or 105 surveys returned. San Luis Valley municipalities that participated in the survey included: Crestone, La Jara, Moffat, Romeo, South Fork and Monte Vista.


Current public perceptions of police work, driven primarily by events occurring elsewhere in the country, are a challenge facing today’s police departments. Police are responding by working more closely with residents and local businesses on crime prevention and reporting. New technology is also helping to build public trust with the deployment of officer-worn body cameras to record officer-civilian contacts and the ability to revive opioid drug overdose victims through the administration of antidotes.  The survey found:

All - share one or more service with another police department (e.g. 9-1-1 dispatch, training, SWAT, crime lab, drug enforcement task force)

59% - operate community policing programs (16% plan to soon)

51% - use officer body cameras (21% plan to soon)

47% - have deployed opioid revival drugs to officers

32% - employ civilian community service officers

69% - report challenges in recruiting new officers. Among reasons cited: inadequate pay/benefits, rural location, current public perceptions of police


The way residents use 9-1-1 services is reshaping municipal fire departments throughout the state. Two thirds of today’s fire department calls are medical emergencies and fire departments are finding more efficient methods of response through full ambulance service, community paramedicine programs and alternative response vehicles. Innovations such as community wildland fire protection planning and new equipment such as fog nails and smoke curtains are making fire department’s more effective.  By the numbers:

48% - participate in a community wildland fire protection plan (10% plan to soon)

36% - operate full ambulance service. (An additional 16% provide emergency transport only)

33% - have instituted a specific program to promote wildfire mitigation (12% plan to soon)

13% - have merged with a district or neighboring city in last decade

52% - report challenges recruiting volunteers. Among reasons cited: working out of service area, training requirements, inadequate compensation, personal time constraints


Corona Insights also took the pulse of responding municipalities regarding economy and revenue. Of those returning surveys, almost half felt their economy was better than the year before, but small towns were slightly more likely than other municipalities to feel their economy was worse than the year before. Also, larger municipalities were generally more likely to expect revenue increases than small municipalities. In about every category tested, 75 percent or more of respondents said they expected revenue increases or at least revenues to stay the same. Most municipalities did not expect state funding to change, but 23 percent believed it would decrease.

Complete survey results and videos can be found at

CML is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established in 1923 and represents the interests of 269 cities and towns. For more information on the Colorado Municipal League, please visit or call 303-831-6411.

Caption: Crestone was one of the communities responding to The Colorado Municipal League’s (CML) 2018 State of Our Cities & Towns Report, specifically focusing on public safety — fire and police. A CML survey reflected how fire departments are changing and what challenges they are facing./Courier file photos