We Need Your Help Colorado...
Your Colorado State Patrol needs your help.
The State Patrol is facing enormous problems that have been growing for many years, with no end in sight. Now, the Patrol is paying a heavy price. Each year, our state government promises to address the issues and each year the issues get worse. This hurts the CSP, while the cost to fix the problems continues to get larger. These issues affect every part of the agency from recruitment and retainment, to staffing and, most importantly, morale. They keep the CSP from attracting and holding onto the best people. Potential recruits choose to join other agencies and CSP troopers leave early in their careers for better pay elsewhere. In the end, this affects the CSP’s ability to provide Coloradans with the services they need.
#ISupportCSP was created to educate and inform people of the challenges facing the Colorado State Patrol and its employees. Over the past two years, the CSP has suffered from high attrition rates of State Troopers through resignations and retirements. The number of troopers leaving the State Patrol has far outnumbered the State Patrol’s ability to recruit, hire and train replacements. The impact of the lack of troopers patrolling Colorado’s roadways can be seen in the number of fatalities on our roads. In 2022, 745 people died on Colorado’s roadways. That’s the most fatalities seen in our state since 1981. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities in 2022 were at their highest since 1975. Deaths from impaired driving increased 6% in just one year (from 2021).
However, it’s not just the troopers who are suffering. The Colorado State Patrol employs other groups of law enforcement professionals that provide valuable services to our state and work to ensure safety on our roadways. Our Port of Entry Officers suffer from extremely low pay that affects their ability to retain and recruit new officers. CSP Communications Officers and Professional Staff are also facing high rates of attrition. The Patrol is often unable to recruit and hire new members into those postitions. Stop-gaps and half-measures have gotten us to this point. It’s time to fix this problem once and for all…and it’s imperative that it’s done right this time.
We can’t just keep kicking the can down the road for others to solve later. The stakes are just too high.
How having fewer troopers on the road
is affecting traffic safety…
Make no mistake about it: When Colorado drivers see a marked Colorado State Patrol vehicle, their driving behavior changes. When surveyed, nine out of ten Coloradoans said that seeing troopers on the road decreases dangerous driving behavior. When asked about their perception of the driving environment when there is high trooper visibility, nearly four out of five respondents felt that other drivers behave in a safe manner. In fact, one-third of respondents admitted that their own driving improves when they see a CSP Officer.
Over the last two years, the CSP has seen high attrition rates for State Troopers through resignations and retirements. Simply put, fewer troopers on the road equals more dangerous driving behaviors, and the statistics prove it. In 2020, Colorado had 622 traffic fatalities. In 2021, Colorado had 691 traffic fatalities. In 2022, Colorado had 745 traffic fatalities. Those are the most fatalities seen in our state since 1981. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities in 2022 were at their highest since 1975. Deaths from impaired driving in 2022 increased 6% from 2021.
Trooper staffing levels have reached a critical level. There are not enough State Troopers available to be on our roads to provide the visibility and enforcement required to reverse the ever-increasing traffic fatality trends. That’s why we need your help and your support.
So, how many troopers are there?
According to the State Patrol’s 2021 Annual Report, “Beginning January 1, 2022, the State of Colorado Legislature has allocated 1,183 full-time equivalents (FTE) to the Colorado State Patrol.”
Of the 1,183 allocated full-time employess, about 695 are uniformed troopers (roughly 59%). The remaining 41% are Port of Entry officers, Communications Officers, Victim Assistance staff, and other technical support and administrative staff members.
What defines a “uniformed state trooper”? Uniformed state troopers are every one from the Chief of the State Patrol down to the newest cadet hired for the academy. Of the approximately 695 uniformed state troopers, roughly 387 are assigned as “Field/Road Troopers.”
“Field/Road Troopers” are all uniformed members, that are below the rank of captain, primarily assigned to highway patrolling duties and who are supported by Highway User Tax Fund (HUTF) dollars. Simply put, these are the troopers who stop aggressive drivers (road rage), arrest drunk/impaired drivers, investigate crashes, and help stranded motorists.
It’s important to understand that patrolling Colorado’s roadways is a 24-hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year operation. It’s impossible for all of the roughly 387 field troopers to be on the road patrolling at the same time. At any given moment, the actual number of field troopers on the road across the state is significantly less. Field troopers are intentionally scheduled to work during times of peak calls for service, based on local analysis of crash statistics and various other traffic data. To put the number of field troopers into perspective:
In Fiscal Year 1980-1981, there were 496 field/road troopers.
In Fiscal Year 2001-2002, there were 509 field/road troopers.
As of February 1 2023, there is estimated to be 387 field/road troopers.
Where are all of the other State Troopers?
To answer this question, you have to understand the various roles and respondsibilities assigned to the State Patrol. The other uniformed state troopers work in “specialty units,” such as Hazardous Materials, Commercial Motor Carrier Safety, Executive and Capitol Complex Security, Academy Training, Public Affairs, Aircraft, and Executive Command Staff. Troopers in specialty units are not specifically assigned to work the road, as in the case of a field trooper. Specialty unit troopers support the overall mission of traffic safety and saving lives in specific and diverse ways.
However, with the high rate of attrition in the trooper ranks, all areas of the State Patrol are starting to suffer. Coloradans and visiting drivers are paying the price with more crashes, less safety, and traffic delays.
High rates of attrition for State Troopers...
From August 2021 through December 2022, the CSP lost close to 124 troopers through resignations and retirements. That equates to an average loss rate of 7 troopers per month for that 17-month period. Of the 124 troopers lost, 85 were from resignations or “regrettable attrition” (an averaged of 5 troopers per month), and 39 retired (an averaged of 2 troopers per month).
2023 is not off to a good start. In January of 2023, there were 4 trooper resignations and 4 trooper retirements, or 8 fewer troopers in just one month.
Many of these resignations involved “regrettable attrition.” Regrettable attrition is when a trooper or other employee leaves the CSP and all of the costs associated with training that person are lost and irrecoverable. Additionally, a new person must be hired and trained to replace that person. The CSP, and more importantly, the citizens of Colorado lose all of the experience the previous employee gained over those years. It’s a losing battle that has a major negative effect on employee morale.
Why are troopers leaving the State Patrol?
Troopers are leaving the CSP for various reasons. However, the major reason for troopers leaving is stagnant and low pay, compared to other law enforcement officers with similar experience and years of service at other Colorado law enforcement agencies. The Covid pandemic and the anti-police riots in the summer of 2020 have made the hiring and retention of new law enforcement officers more challenging. City and county governments were able to pivot more efficiently in raising the salaries of their officers. The State of Colorado simply cannot compete with the efficiency of city and county governments in raising pay. Pay raises for State Troopers and all state government employees are stuck in the cumbersome bureaucracy of the state’s legislative process.
All state employees, including troopers, have seen little to no advancement in pay for two decades due to pay compression. The compression is caused from lack of legislative funding for the Pay for Performance System, which replaced the “step-pay” system in 2002. Troopers who make it to the 5- or 10-year mark in their careers are leaving the CSP to go to other law enforcement agencies after seeing little to no increase in their pay.
You can learn more about Pay for Performance here:
“The Snake Oil That’s Been Destroying State Employees for Two Decades”
Trooper Pay Bill...
In the late 1990’s, the Colorado State Patrol faced the exact same crisis with trooper staffing levels that it faces today. To address the critically low numbers of State Troopers, the CSP worked with a bipartisan group of law makers to create what is known as the “Trooper Pay Bill.” The bill was designed to ensure that the State of Colorado and the CSP would always remain competitive with city and county law enforcement agencies regarding pay, to ensure adequate trooper staffing on our roadways. The Trooper Pay Bill was passed into law in July of 2000. Known formally as C.R.S 24-50-104(1)(a)(III)(A)(B), the statute simply states in regards to trooper pay:
“…the amount of salary shall be at least ninety-nine percent of the actual average salary provided to the top three law enforcement agencies within the state that have both more than one hundred commissioned officers and the highest actual average salary.”
If the Trooper Pay Bill exists, then why are troopers still underpaid compared other Colorado law enforcement agencies?
The answer is in the Department of Personnel and Administration’s (DPA) inconsistent interpretation of the Trooper Pay Bill over the course of two decades. In a September 2022 presentation to the state’s Joint Budget Committee, the DPA, after reassessing current trooper pay in relation to the Trooper Pay Bill, stated:
“Overall pay comparison shows State Troopers are 10.8% below the weighted market average (weighted by class size) for the top three law enforcement jurisdictions with the State of Colorado.”
This is why we need your help. Click here to learn what you can do to help us.
The challenges of hiring and training State Troopers: What you need to know…
Law enforcement is a unique profession. This is especially true when it comes to recruiting and hiring new employees. Law enforcement officers are entrusted with tremendous powers granted by the representatives of the citizens it serves. It’s the responsibility of all law enforcement agencies to ensure that the officers they hire to protect the public possess the highest moral and ethical standards.
The Colorado State Patrol leads the way in this category. Since March of 2015, the CSP has been accredited by CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.). CALEA accreditation represents the gold standard for law enforcement accreditation in the United States and several other countries. In April of 2022, the CSP received the CALEA TRI-ARC award. This award is given to agencies that have concurrent CALEA accreditation for their law enforcement, public safety communications (dispatch call centers), and public safety training agencies (Colorado State Patrol Academy). In fact, the Colorado State Patrol’s Training Academy, is the only CALEA-accredited academy in the State of Colorado.
Hiring and training new State Troopers is not easy. The vetting and screening process for potential troopers takes time. The State Patrol’s standards are high, because the citizens of Colorado demand it. After being hired, new cadet troopers go through a rigorous 24-week academy. In the academy, cadet troopers are instilled with the CSP’s core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect. When a cadet graduates from the academy, they have earned the right to wear the badge of a Colorado State Trooper. Our badge has seven points on it and represents a perfect star. Each of the seven points on our badge represents the seven tenets of the CSP: Character, Integrity, Judgement, Loyalty, Courtesy, Honor, and Knowledge. The badge is worn on the left side of our uniform above our heart. When the badge is placed on our uniform for the first time at graduation, we swear an oath. That oath is our promise to you to serve you faithfully and with respect.
In the past 17 months, the CSP lost an average of 7 troopers per month through resignations and retirements. To hire and train a new trooper can take up to nine months before they even begin working the road. Over those nine months, the CSP could potentially lose 63 troopers. With academy classes varying in size from 35 to 50 cadets, the current rate of attrition far outpaces the CSP’s ability to hire and train new troopers.
It’s time to stop blaming COVID for road rage…
We need to understand the real reason why road rage is out of control. There are simply not enough State Troopers on Colorado’s roadways to stop aggressive drivers.
Road rage is a huge concern for Colorado’s citizens. According to the State Patrol’s 2022 Public Opinion Survey , when asked, “In what areas would you like to see more effort/enforcement by the Colorado State Patrol?” the majority of the respondents cited Aggressive/Reckless Driving as their top priority. Distracted Driving, Speeding, and Impaired Driving rounded out the top four areas of concern for Coloradans.
With fewer troopers on the road, road rage in Colorado will only continue. We need your help to take back our roads from aggressive drivers and save lives.
Click here to learn what you can do to help us.
Colorado’s Skyrocketing Traffic Fatality Rates in the News
Two decades of unfunded pay progression for state employees has resulted in a crisis situation, and what that means for you…
In July of 2002, the State of Colorado moved to what it called a “Pay for Performance” system. Pay for Performance replaced the merit-based, “step-increase” pay system that Colorado voters put into place in 1918. Simply put, the merit-based pay system provided for a steady increase in a state employee’s wages as their career progressed in both years on the job and the increase in their skills and knowledge. Pay for Performance did away with all that. Pay for Performance was based on two key components, an objective employee evaluation system and a commitment by the state to fund the program. In two decades, Pay for Performance has only been meagerly funded twice. The end result of the state not funding Pay for Performance is state employees trapped at the bottom of their pay range for decades.
For the citizens of Colorado, it has resulted in wasted tax dollars and reduced services. The continuous turnover of state workers leaving state employment for higher-paying jobs has resulted in a revolving-door process of hiring and training new employees, who often walk out the door a few years later after seeing no movement in their pay. Vacancies in critical job positions go unfilled, resulting in reduced or delayed services to the citizens of Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) inability to hire snowplow drivers to plow our highways is one example of this point.
The easy way to understand Pay for Performance and Pay Compression…
It’s critical to understand the detrimental effects of Pay for Performance and Pay Compression for state employees. We researched and wrote an easy-to-read article that explains this issue:
“The Snake Oil That’s Been Destroying State Employees for Two Decades”
The high cost of living and working in the Colorado’s mountain communities…
For more than two decades, the State of Colorado has failed to properly fund the Pay for Performance System. This failure has resulted in stagnant pay for state employees. The historical rise in inflation has magnified the problem. Pictures of snowcapped mountains, skiers, and celebrity sightings in Vail conjure up the images we want associated with Colorado.
For a specific group of State Troopers, Port of Entry Officers, Communication Officers, and civilian support staff, living and working in Colorado’s mountain communities brings another daunting challenge; the exorbitant cost of living. Read, in their own words, what it’s like to face this challenge.
How high turnover affects staffing levels, recruitment, and morale…
The continuous turnover of state workers leaving state employment for higher-paying jobs has resulted in a revolving-door process of hiring and training new employees. The cost to Colorado taxpayers of the endless process of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees to replace these workers is enormous. Vacancies in critical job positions go unfilled resulting in reduced or delayed services to the citizens of Colorado.
The Colorado State Patrol feels the effects of this constant turnover. CSP communication centers around the state are constantly hiring and training new communications officers, only to see them walk out the door a short time later. High attrition rates for state troopers only serve to leave Colorado’s roadways vulnerable and dangerous, due to aggressive and impaired drivers. Port of Entry officer pay is so low that recent attempts to recruit new members resulted in the CSP having to extend application deadlines due to the lack of people submitting applications.
For the dedicated members of the CSP who remain on the job, the burden of having to work short-staffed for the past two years is taking its toll. Calls for service to CSP communication centers have continued to increase. Morale is decreasing. The psychological stress of bearing the weight of increased responsibilities and workload due to short staffing all across the CSP is only getting worse. Now more than ever, we need your help and support.
Recruitment and Retention...The Port of Entry's inability to fill vacancies
For Port of Entry Officers, their already-low pay, coupled with pay compression and inflation, only exacerbates their inability to recruit and retain employees. Over the course of the past year, the Patrol has twice opened the application process for new Port of Entry Officers. Each time, the deadline for applications was extended because of low response. During the second application process, the CSP had to offer a $3,000 signing bonus in the areas of Ft. Morgan and Limon to elicit prospective applicants due to critical staffing shortages in those locations. The first $1,500 of the bonus was paid at the beginning of employment. After one year of employment, the remaining $1,500 would be paid. This was done in order to ensure at least one-year of tenure in the Port of Entry; a unit with a high turnover rate.
It’s time to stop these band-aid fixes and finally pay Port of Entry Officers what the job deserves. Is that too much to ask for Port of Entry Officers, who are responsible for the safety of hundreds of thousands of commercial motor vehicles that operate on Colorado’s roads every year?
DID YOU KNOW?
POE has only retained 59% of academy graduates since 2016
In October 2022, the POE Branch of the CSP only had 95 Uniformed Officers of their allotted 120 Uniformed Officer positions.
In their exit interview, almost all of the approximately 41% of POE officers who have left the job since 2016 have indicated that take-home pay vs. cost of living at their duty station was the deciding factor for why they left.
We need your help to fix this important issue.
Other things you may not know about the Port of Entry…
SAFEGUARDING COLORADO ROADWAYS
286,972 violations were noted on Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) roadside inspection reports in Colorado during a 6-year period between CY 2016-2021.
81,505 Out of Service violations were reported in that 6-year period. POE officers alone discovered 62% of those Out of Service violations
Out of Service violations are those violations that are considered too dangerous for the vehicle to be driven. Out of Service violations include unsafe equipment like brakes, tires, steering apparatus, and even driver fatigue.
POE officers conducted 163,773 CMV inspections or 55% of the total inspections done in Colorado in that 6-year period – an average of 273 inspections per POE officer per year
On average, a POE officer document more violations per inspection than any other Colorado inspector
POE officers are highly trained in CMV regulations. Unlike uniformed State Troopers, POE officers do not respond to crashes or other calls for service and focus solely on CMV safety.
Critical staffing levels and their serious effects on wellness…
State Patrol employees are entering a third year of working short-handed. Staffing levels for field troopers has hit a critical level. Many troopers have worked alone on their shifts for most of those years with no end in sight. The stress is starting to take its toll on their wellness.
Hear how a current trooper with a passion to save lives, who is also a wife and a dedicated mother, deals with the stress of constantly working alone. This story will move you:
Our Colorado State Patrol Magazine
We created a special edition of our magazine to discuss these issues. You can click the button below and download this special edition. You’ll be able to read first hand accounts from CSP employees and hear their stories and how they are affected.
Hear what fellow Coloradoans have to say…
Thank you for protecting the residents and visitors of Colorado. I'm always happy to slow down 20 mph when passing a CSP unit on the road shoulder, if I can't change lanes.
Colorado Legislature has made empty promises to support LEOs and State Patrol. Funding is one of them. Backing and protecting law enforcement is another.
Thank you for your service and dedication to keep us safe on the roads and highways. I am sadden that they are short staffed and losing CSP Officers. Prayers for those still serving.
Thank you for your service.
Prayers for all the Troopers in the field trying to do their jobs short staffed. A difficult job, and they need support from within the organization and State Government as well.
I support CSP
We are blessed to service their vehicles and I go out of my way to thank every officer for what they do. That there are a few law abiding citizens that care about speeding, tailgating and impaired driving. I tell them to keep fighting and some of us will do it along side them and the other departments that are doing the same. They are doing God's work and people need to start fearing their final destinations again.
The reason for losing so many Troopers is directly due to some of the laws our legislators have been passing. It has also happened to police departme to and sheriff offices. It isn't a money issue it is bad choices made by our elected officials. I dont know if there is one law enforcement department in the state that is fully staffed. When you make laws that makes it impossible to do the job and makes the job more dangerous at the same time people choose to change careers or go to other states to do their choosen profession.
Thanks for all you do
CSP, CDOT keep our roads maintained and safe. Citizens need to vote for more money to go to these entities to ensure we are safe on the highways and roads. Politicians are voted in to help the people and those who are protecting us and ensuring our safety.
You do an awesome job CSP and you are supported and prayed for by many people.
Thank you for your service. We need you all. We support you. We pray for you. Please remember that....
The State should not use pay for performance as the State does not make a profit on sales. Employees should earn a good living. They should get yearly reviews and if not performing can be fired. The governor should work to get good salaries for good employees.
Don't give up, changes will be coming soon!
Thank you all for your service. God bless you all.
My family supports you all!! Without your dedication & expertise our state is in big trouble! I agree changes need to be made!! They are far overdue. The sacrifices made by the State Patrol deserve to be seen, heard, respected & supported as much as possible! Thank you all for your service!!
Thanks for having the Troops back. ECS needs to be held accountable.
Hear directly from those that serve…
Major League Image, Minor League Way of Life
When the 2022 Major League Baseball season came to an end, and a champion was crowned at the conclusion of the World Series, it was easy to get caught up in the awe and fandom of athletes playing a child’s game while getting paid millions of dollars to do it. The final four teams in the playoffs all had payrolls over $150 million, with a combined 14 players making at least $20 million per year. Not to mention that most major league teams are located in some of the largest and most desirable cities to live in across the United States
Running on Empty
When I graduated from FTO in the summer of 2018 my call sign was 3C27. Six months later the 3C Fort Collins troop received two more Troopers making the highest call sign 3C29. Back in “those” days, I realize I am far too junior to say that to most of you but bear with me as I share my experience with staffing over the last 5 years. So back in “those” days pre-pandemic when I was a baby trooper full of vinegar, I had all the support and cover anyone could ask for. I had senior
teammates whom I could learn from.
Why I have thought about leaving the patrol
“I love my job. I love the Colorado State Patrol and what our organization represents for traffic safety and keeping people safe. One life lost is one too many. We need well-paid troopers to stay competitive, which over time, will increase the number of troopers on our roads. "
The Snake Oil That‘s Been Destroying State Employees for Two Decades
How does a government recruit, hire and retain employees from the available workforce while competing at the same time with private sector businesses? How does a government do that while remaining fiscally responsible to its taxpayers? Colorado’s state government found a method to do just that and it worked. Their method worked well for decades.
What can I do to help?
It’s very simple and easy to make a big impression. The Colorado State Patrol Association needs your help educating people about the issues we face. You can use the tools on this page to educate yourself about the challenging issues the Colorado State Patrol faces, sign up for email updates of our progress, and help share our story on your social media. You can also contribute financially to our campaign in different ways. First, you can donate to the campaign directly and help us pay for media advertisements, educational materials, and other campaign resources. You can join the Association by becoming an Associate Member. You can also purchase some of our memorabilia that not only funds our efforts, but allows you to show your support.
Be in the know
If you’d like to get updates on our progress and other ways you can support CSP then give us your name and email. You can even receive text alerts on your cell.
If would help us a lot if you would take a moment of your time to spread the word about the issues we face and how they affect the entire state of Colorado.
Learn the truth. Read personal stories from CSP employees themselves and see factual reports and analysis about the effects these issues have on you and the rest of Colorado.
Make a Donation
Your donations go directly to media buys and other messaging costs to help us get the word out. Any amount helps us further our story. Thank you for your support!
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Become a Member
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