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the next denver crime scene investigations unit to show up at your doorstep after

a burglary just might be staffed by volunteers.

about 390 residents have signed on to work for the denver police department, many
handling data entry and other routine tasks. but some - 40 to 50 when recruiting
is complete - will come with high-tech expertise to gather fingerprints and dna.

don't expect volunteers to crack the next serial killing whodunit, but they will
be enlisted to help investigate car thefts, burglaries and other property crimes.

police officials outlined the ambitious plans wednesday in a presentation to the


city council's safety committee.

assigning civilian volunteers to some police functions could help put more
officers on the street for more serious crimes, said police sgt. matt murray, who
helped design the program.

possible liability to the city?

very little, murray said. the district attorney's office has signed onto the
program, murray said. the program has also been examined by the city attorney's
office, though a spokesman said he could not discuss details.

besides, murray said, all the crime-scene crews will do is gather evidence.
scientists back at the lab will analyze it.

the citizen investigators will process scenes that might otherwise not have been
visited by certified officers, police said.

with police chief gerry whitman looking on, murray told the committee that
volunteers could help direct traffic at accidents and wait for tow trucks to
arrive. cops could then tackle more pressing calls.

already, one volunteer pilot is flying a police helicopter that might otherwise be
on the ground, he said.

the csi crews will undergo rigorous training and will be asked to take polygraphs,
murray said.

two volunteers are already in csi training. more will come from the current crop
of volunteers, and others have yet to be selected.

whitman said citizen volunteer programs have been a "huge success" in other cities
where they've been tried.

denver's program is patterned loosely after one in san diego that has been
operating for more than a decade, murray said.

pete zajda, who runs the san diego program, said about 800 volunteers there do
everything from patrolling in marked cars to crisis intervention. some are trained
to work with domestic assault victims. others to minister to families of homicide
victims.

he said the program has been a success, though he could not recall any specific
crimes solved by volunteers.

whitman outlined other initiatives the city is preparing to implement to try to


get a handle on crime. the city will have a new system where residents can call
the number 311 to report non-emergency situations, freeing up 911 lines.

he also said about 97 percent of silent alarms are false alarms and that he is
encouraging business owners to install better video surveillance.

whitman also touted a program to take reports on crimes that have a low
probability of being solved.

he even said that residents using the program may account for some of the reason
that reports of crime in denver are increasing.

denver's declining arrest rate in the face of growing crime reports has prompted
at least three reviews and a host of initiatives.

over mayor john hickenlooper's objection, the city council approved hiring 19 more
officers than were in the mayor's budget.

that, and the citizen volunteer initiative, might not be enough to satisfy a
powerful neighborhood association. the umbrella group - inter-neighborhood
cooperation - has raised more than 1,000 signatures supporting a hike in property
taxes to pay for 200 additional officers.

the signatures are meant to persuade the council to put a measure on a city
ballot, said member karen cuthbertson.

the organization, which represents more than 75 neighborhood groups, will decide
this month whether to take additional steps to force the issue, she said.

infobox

investigative outsourcing

* denver citizen volunteers could eventually perform: data entry, type reports,
control traffic at accidents, handle calls for tow trucks, citizen patrols, gather
fingerprints at property crime scenes, take photos, look for property crime scene
dna.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

copyright 2005 lexisnexis, a division of reed elsevier inc. all rights reserved.
terms and conditions | privacy policy
the next denver crime scene investigations unit to show up at your doorstep after
a burglary just might be staffed by volunteers.

about 390 residents have signed on to work for the denver police department, many
handling data entry and other routine tasks. but some - 40 to 50 when recruiting
is complete - will come with high-tech expertise to gather fingerprints and dna.

don't expect volunteers to crack the next serial killing whodunit, but they will
be enlisted to help investigate car thefts, burglaries and other property crimes.

police officials outlined the ambitious plans wednesday in a presentation to the


city council's safety committee.

assigning civilian volunteers to some police functions could help put more
officers on the street for more serious crimes, said police sgt. matt murray, who
helped design the program.

possible liability to the city?

very little, murray said. the district attorney's office has signed onto the
program, murray said. the program has also been examined by the city attorney's
office, though a spokesman said he could not discuss details.

besides, murray said, all the crime-scene crews will do is gather evidence.
scientists back at the lab will analyze it.

the citizen investigators will process scenes that might otherwise not have been
visited by certified officers, police said.

with police chief gerry whitman looking on, murray told the committee that
volunteers could help direct traffic at accidents and wait for tow trucks to
arrive. cops could then tackle more pressing calls.

already, one volunteer pilot is flying a police helicopter that might otherwise be
on the ground, he said.

the csi crews will undergo rigorous training and will be asked to take polygraphs,
murray said.

two volunteers are already in csi training. more will come from the current crop
of volunteers, and others have yet to be selected.

whitman said citizen volunteer programs have been a "huge success" in other cities
where they've been tried.

denver's program is patterned loosely after one in san diego that has been
operating for more than a decade, murray said.

pete zajda, who runs the san diego program, said about 800 volunteers there do
everything from patrolling in marked cars to crisis intervention. some are trained
to work with domestic assault victims. others to minister to families of homicide
victims.

he said the program has been a success, though he could not recall any specific
crimes solved by volunteers.

whitman outlined other initiatives the city is preparing to implement to try to


get a handle on crime. the city will have a new system where residents can call
the number 311 to report non-emergency situations, freeing up 911 lines.

he also said about 97 percent of silent alarms are false alarms and that he is
encouraging business owners to install better video surveillance.

whitman also touted a program to take reports on crimes that have a low
probability of being solved.

he even said that residents using the program may account for some of the reason
that reports of crime in denver are increasing.

denver's declining arrest rate in the face of growing crime reports has prompted
at least three reviews and a host of initiatives.

over mayor john hickenlooper's objection, the city council approved hiring 19 more
officers than were in the mayor's budget.

that, and the citizen volunteer initiative, might not be enough to satisfy a
powerful neighborhood association. the umbrella group - inter-neighborhood
cooperation - has raised more than 1,000 signatures supporting a hike in property
taxes to pay for 200 additional officers.

the signatures are meant to persuade the council to put a measure on a city
ballot, said member karen cuthbertson.

the organization, which represents more than 75 neighborhood groups, will decide
this month whether to take additional steps to force the issue, she said.

infobox

investigative outsourcing

* denver citizen volunteers could eventually perform: data entry, type reports,
control traffic at accidents, handle calls for tow trucks, citizen patrols, gather
fingerprints at property crime scenes, take photos, look for property crime scene
dna.

* interested? call the police volunteer coordinator at 720-913-1038.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

copyright 2005 lexisnexis, a division of reed elsevier inc. all rights reserved.
terms and conditions | privacy policy
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