Anyone who doubts crime and violence are on the rise in Colorado Springs need only read The Gazette or consume other sources of news. Since late September, there has been a spate of shootings and homicides. On the worst days, this place seems like the south side of Chicago.
Recent shootings near Austin Bluffs Parkway and Barnes Road have dominated news cycles, but there have also been shootings at businesses near East Platte Avenue and, just Friday, a man was shot at the Colorado Springs Airport.
The city had 26 homicides as of Friday. At this time last year, there had been 17. Rape and robbery numbers are also up from previous years. Law enforcement has had to deal with numerous traffic fatalities throughout the city.
Colorado Springs is obviously no longer the quiet, peaceful, quaint little town at the base of Pikes Peak many residents remember.
Growth has brought us new jobs and new opportunities but has also increased the prevalence of big-city problems. Traffic, noise and crowded shopping areas are the lesser issues. Crime is a big one.
And who is charged with dealing with the increase in violent crimes? Our public safety officials have to handle the increased calls, the multiple unsolved investigations. They must do so with smaller-than-optimal staffing for a city this size.
The last month of mayhem weighs heavily on a staff that also must deal with routine law enforcement demands that never go away. The same men and women who must patrol streets for routine traffic violations, on increasingly congested streets, must respond to multiple victim crime scenes in the middle of the night.
All this raises the stakes in the vote Tuesday, in which city residents will decide whether to fund the city's stormwater obligations and free up money in the general fund that Mayor John Suthers has said he wants for hiring police officers and firefighters.
Growth has caused the city to outgrow its drainage system and public safety resources.
Opponents of the ballot proposal should look at the looming public safety needs before criticizing the mayor's plan. Research shows that increasing crime levels make communities decline.
We can't afford to continue ignoring what is happening in our still-beautiful city. Drainage infrastructure and public safety are legitimate responsibilities of municipal governments. We must give City Hall what it needs to do provide basic services the public wants, needs and expects.