As Colorado Springs battles a rash of burglaries after a wildfire that still licks at its boundaries, it does so with fewer police and firefighters.
Enlarge image Looters Evade Colorado Springs’s Recession-Withered Police
A police officer directs hundreds of residents of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, which was heavily damaged by the Waldo Canyon fire, in Colorado Springs. More than 180 National Guard troops have been mobilized to secure the city after the state’s most destructive fire. Photographer Spencer Platt/Getty Images
The city where the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed 346 homes and forced more than 34,000 residents to evacuate turned off one-third of its streetlights two years ago, halted park maintenance and cut services to close a $28 million budget gap after sales-tax revenue plummeted and voters rejected a property-tax increase.
The municipality, at 416,000 the state’s second-largest, auctioned both its police helicopters and shrank public-safety ranks through attrition by about 8 percent; it has 50 fewer police and 39 fewer firefighters than five years ago. More than 180 National Guard troops have been mobilized to secure the city after the state’s most destructive fire. At least 32 evacuated homes were burglarized and dozens of evacuees’ cars were broken into, said Police Chief Pete Carey.
“It has impacted the response,” said Karin White, a 54- year-old accountant, who returned home June 28 to a looted and vandalized house, with a treasured, century-old family heirloom smashed.
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