Pueblo, CO - Community engagement, technology, and increased manpower are responsible for a 23 percent reduction in major crimes in Pueblo since 2017, according to Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport.
The 26-year veteran of the Pueblo Police Department (PPD) had a list of things he wanted to accomplish when he interviewed for the Chief of Police position in 2017 and is proud to say he already has achieved all but one.
Pueblo born and raised, Davenport sought to get additional officers funded by the public safety sales tax hired and placed. (In 2017, Pueblo strongly passed 2B ballot initiative adding 24 additional officers and equipment over five years.) He also wanted to get “back to basics” in law enforcement, which to him meant having a positive effect by doing more community-oriented projects and patrolling (bicycling, etc.), and engaging neighborhoods in the law enforcement process.
“I’m a bit disappointed that the pandemic has limited those efforts somewhat in 2020, but gathering people during this time would be irresponsible,” Davenport said.
Davenport explained that the overall crime rate has decreased 23 percent since 2017 in Part 1 crimes, which are those reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation – homicide, assault, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, moto vehicle theft, and arson.
“From 2019-2020 alone, we were down 4 percent, which compounds with a 9 % reduction in 2018-19 and a 10 percent decline in 2017-18,” he said. “What is significant about that is 2017 was the first year we had added manpower from the public safety sales tax.”
He attributes the Pueblo Police Department’s success during his tenure to several factors:
Davenport said he sought to endear the community to the police department and “to be seen as part of the community not ‘apart’ from the community.”
In the last two years, the PPD’s Toys for Tots program has provided 7,000 toys to every elementary school child in District 60. They also have conducted food basket giveaways and bought bicycles for children out of their own pockets. Other programs aimed to increase the PPD’s visibility in the community include the Toy Bowl football game (Bikers vs. Cops), Trunk or Treat, Neighborhood Watch and Safety Nights, Citizens Academy, Blue Santa, Athletic leagues, and the Ice Cup (policemen vs. firemen).
“This community engagement was one of my focuses, one of the things I was determined to do,” he said. “I wanted to establish a culture of service and be connected to the community through those kinds of efforts.”
He acknowledges that his long track record with the police department (he’s starting his 26th year having been hired in January 1994), gave him an advantage when obtaining buy in from his officers for his goals.
“But I also think that being present and being involved was a significant factor,” he said. “I was there at the community events -- up and down the alley, picking up trash, cooking hotdogs. I was willing to put in the time.”
Chief Davenport also had as a top priority engaging his officers in the decision-making processes, for example, with the adoption and selection of officer body cameras. Since 2002, PPD has also worked to provide in car camera systems to every marked unit. As Deputy Chief in 2015, Davenport oversaw the selection and purchase of officer body cameras. He explained that the department evaluated different cameras, seeking reliability as well as a comfortable fit for officers of all sizes.
“I gathered a committee of officers of all sizes from 5’2” 105 pounds to 6’, 200+, young and old, as well as those technologically adept and those technologically challenged,” he said.
He has encouraged officer input from the camera selection to the community-oriented policing, which he pushed down to the officer level with the question, ‘Where do you see problems and where can officers have a positive impact?’
Finally, Davenport also was determined to get the PPD re-accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which sets the International Gold Standard for best policies and procedures within the profession of law enforcement. Starting in 2017, Pueblo PD received CALEA Accreditation, placing it among the top 5% of law enforcement agencies in the country.
This achievement prioritizes commitment to continuous development & professional delivery of public safety services. Prior to his hiring as Chief, the department obtained the first step in the re-accreditation process as evaluators began their four-year examination of policy and procedures, 25% each year for four years. The fourth year involves an on-site inspection, which occurred in mid-December. Davenport indicated they will learn about re-accreditation in March.
Educated locally at East High School and CSU-Pueblo, Davenport said his leadership style was influenced by two football coaches, Bill Corder and Greg Smith, who “guided me swiftly when necessary, but led in very different, yet effective ways.”
“Bill Corder motivated me like no one else. He was a great motivator with high expectations. You wanted to please him,” Davenport said.
He called Smith “a gentler soul,” who as the parent of a child with severe medical issues, taught him resilience by example and not to let anything knock him down. Five uncles (of his mother’s 8 siblings) also influenced him in various ways.
“Some served our country. Some were just hard working, but all of them were strong, decent people,” Davenport said.
He admits that the Chief of Police position requires enormous amounts of energy, and especially in large metropolitan areas, the average tenure of a police chief is a short 3 to 5 years. But he has no regrets about the career path he has chosen.
“Being a police officer is a certainly a challenge, but in no other occupation do you have an opportunity to help people as often, have as positive an influence on your community, and provide leadership and help to people in their worst moments,” he said. “In the end, you won’t say you sat on the sidelines. Yes, I’ve experienced ups and downs and difficult situations, but I love being an officer.”