Staff shortages, fewer visits segue into closure of substation, end to mall cops
The Grand Junction Police Department will close its substation at Mesa Mall at the start of next year, the product of staff shortages elsewhere and fewer visits by shoppers.
The Police Department, which has had a storefront presence since 2002 in the south wing of the mall, 2424 U.S. Highway 6&50, will shut down the operation come January, Police Chief John Camper said last week.
Camper said the department committed to stay through the holidays.
“It’s not fair to the mall to take up space if we’re not going to be able to fully staff it,” the chief said. “And the walk-up traffic just doesn’t justify it.”
The department, including its Community Advocacy Program, has leased the space free of charge while paying for basic utilities and a cleaning service, Camper said.
Last year, those costs added up to just under $9,000.
Attrition, including firings and resignations at the patrol level, led to the reassignment of two mall-based officers to fill gaps on patrol several months ago, Camper said.
The agency is down nine positions, mostly on patrol, from its authorized force of 107 sworn personnel.
Camper has said the city’s budget uncertainty means those jobs won’t be filled anytime soon.
The mall substation now is staffed by three officers and a secretary.
Aside from staffing problems, visits to the facility have declined since the closure of nearby Mervyns in the spring of 2008, Camper said.
Traffic hasn’t picked up since the opening of Cabela’s in May.
Despite the substation’s closure, the chief insists they’re not abandoning the mall.
“We’re still going to have a presence out there,” Camper said.