COLORADO SPRINGS – Utilizing an eventual boost in staffing of 120 additional officers, Colorado Springs police will make reducing traffic fatalities the top priority under Vince Niski as department chief. Mayor John Suthers announced Monday the selection of Niski, currently CSPD’s deputy chief, as appointee to the position recently vacated by Pete Carey, who on Monday began a new stint as El Paso County Undersheriff.
“Me and my staff have to sit down and decide where those employees are going to be distributed to improve our operations,” Niski told News 5 Monday. Niski and Suthers granted individual sit-down interviews with Colorado Springs media outlets to discuss Niski’s credentials entering the job, as well as outlining objectives once Niski assumes the office, contingent upon approval by City Council later this month.
Niski was selected from among five finalists — two from within CSPD and three from outside the department — for the position which drew more than 60 nationwide applicants. “I’m just excited to be the chief here and continue working with the professionals at CSPD,” Niski told News 5. Niski, a Colorado Springs native, has spent his entire 30-year career with CSPD, working his way through the ranks and spending the last seven years as deputy chief.
Niski says traffic safety must be a top priority for not only police on patrol, but also for the city’s residents and guests. “We had 48 fatalities last year (a record), which, in my mind, is just unacceptable,” Niski said. Mayor Suthers echoed the urgency in reducing traffic deaths among drivers and pedestrians alike. “We’ve got to convince the citizens of Colorado Springs to slow down, observe the traffic laws, and the police department is going to play a big role in that,” Suthers said.
Another key priority, Niski and Suthers say, is addressing homelessness. “We did add one more body to the Homeless Outreach Team (Sunday),” Niski said. An additional goal, he says, is to work with El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder in hopes of securing a county deputy to join the city’s “HOT” team. “We can coordinate on our efforts rather than us pushing homeless into the county and the issues into the county and (Elder) pushing them into the city,” Niski said. “We collaborate together to hopefully solve the problem rather than move it from the city to the county and back.”
“I think it speaks well of both the City of Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Police Department that so many people wanted this job,” Suthers said.