Sep 28, 2021 - Politics

Colorado's violent crime rate hits 25-year high

Rate of violent crime offenses per 100k people in <b style='color:#ff4e1f'>Colorado</b> and the <b style='color:#757575'>U.S.</b>
Data: FBI; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The estimated number of violent crimes in Colorado last year spiked to its highest level in 25 years and exceeded the national rate for the third straight year, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.

Why it matters: The findings, some of which are approximates, bolster initial data showing a surge in violent crime in Denver and across the state throughout the pandemic.

  • Legal experts say socioeconomic changes sparked by the COVID-19 crisis, including increases in unemployment, could be behind the violent crime spike, Axios' Russell Contreras reports.

By the numbers: The rate of violent criminal offenses — including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — per 100,000 Coloradans increased by 10% between 2019 and 2020, the highest it's been since 1990, an Axios Denver analysis found.

  • Homicide rates in Colorado rose by 28% between 2019 and 2020, though levels remain below national figures.
  • The rate of property crimes last year jumped by 8% compared with 2019, dwarfing U.S. rates, which fell for the 18th consecutive year.

Yes, but: The rate of some violent crimes, like murder, remains far lower in Colorado than those recorded throughout the 1980s and '90s.

Zoom in: Violent crimes reported to the Denver Police Department in 2020 outnumber every other year dating back more than three decades.

Crimes <b style='color:#757575'>reported</b> and <b style='color:#00c46b'>cleared</b> by the Denver Police Department
Data: FBI; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
  • Reports of violent crime in the city grew by 14% between 2019 and 2020. The number of crimes cleared by police officers also climbed, albeit at roughly half the pace.
  • Homicides peaked last year compared to the last 35 years. Nearly 100 murders were reported in 2020, marking the highest death toll recorded in Denver since 1992.
  • Property crimes also spiked by 25% last year compared to 2019's numbers and have steadily increased over the last decade.

Zoom out: The estimated number of violent crimes in the U.S. rose for the first time in four years in 2020, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

  • The projected rate of violent crime marked a 5.6% increase from 2019's rate.

Of note: Because some law enforcement agencies did not participate in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the statistics should be considered estimates.


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