Denver police chief calls on public to do more to curb crime

Axios Denver
Axios Denver

Denver Police chief Paul Pazen on Tuesday urged the public to contact their elected officials with their concerns over rising crime rates .

Driving the news: Pazen said the city has recorded 60 homicides so far this year, and is on pace to not only exceed last year's total (96), but break Denver's all-time annual high of 100 homicides set in 1981 .

  • The police chief said homicides are having a disproportionate impact on African American, Asian American and Latino residents, who make up 85% of murder victims in Denver.

What he's saying: Pazen blamed repeat offenders for driving up the city's crime, and said it will take the collective effort of residents, legislators, judges and prosecutors in concert with law enforcement to curb criminal activity.

He also recommended that people join neighborhood watch groups, which he said are effective at crime prevention.

  • Such civilian groups came under intense scrutiny after the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was acting as the neighborhood watch coordinator when he killed 17-year-old Martin.

The intrigue: Some of Pazen's comments at the virtual event hosted by the Denver Gazette on Tuesday echo a frequent refrain from Republicans. GOP members are criticizing Democrats for passing laws which they claim contributed to a rise in crime ( the reality is much more nuanced ).

  • A 2020 bill, which requires that officers wear body cameras and changes when force can be used, was cited by Republicans in connection to law enforcement departures, CPR News writes.
  • Prominent Republican George Brauchler called the spike in criminal activity a " Colorado crime tsunami ," in an op-ed last year, citing a report from the conservative-leaning Common Sense Institute.
  • That phrase was parroted by state GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown on Twitter as she criticized Democrats , including Gov. Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser. "Democrats have done NOTHING to make our communities safe," Burton Brown wrote in May. "If we want to see change, we have to change who's in charge."

By the numbers: Property crimes are up 53.6% overall, while violent crime rose 21.7% in Denver, per data collected by the department and shared by Pazen. The rates measure changes between 2019 to 2021.

  • Murders have spiked 52.4%, while aggravated assaults are up 34.8% and robberies jumped 10.2%.
  • Auto thefts soared 137.5%, while burglaries are up 41.6%.
  • Denver's crime stats reflect a statewide trend. Colorado saw the fourth-highest increase in crimes between 2019 and 2020, according to CPR News .

Of note: The data found that reported rapes are down 21.7%.

  • Pazen said the department seized 2,095 guns last year, and made more arrests for auto theft than any year on record.

Comments / 37

PJ Clarke

When you decriminalize lawlessness, public safety then becomes the victim of such lawlessness. The spike in crime is directly related to the progressive policies of city and state officials who seem to think that de-escalation will solve all their problems, when in fact, it just exacerbates the problem because criminals do not fear any repercussions for the consequences of their actions. De-escalation is a euphemism for appeasement, a tool of quislings and cowards. You want our help, Chief, fine. But please, give us the courtesy of treating us like adults. Don't handcuff us by enforcing policies that restrict our right of self defense. And don't handcuff your Officer's from using all the force necessary to curb the intent of the criminal element who seek to destroy the safety and security of the community at large through their egregious behavior.

Randy Goddard

start holding criminals accountable for what they do and if a citizen does the job of the police department stop charging them with a crime and prosecuting them for doing it


Comments / 0