The rate of violent crime victims in Colorado is more than double the national average, according to a new data from the Department of Justice. When it comes to victims of property crime, the state ranks second overall. Even though this information was gathered before the spread of COVID in 2019, crime rates have only risen since then.
The study is distinct from others of its like because it contains, for the first time, a survey of persons who claim to have been victims of crime but who did not report it to the police. Colorado’s reported rate of violent crime has typically been around the national median. If you count those who were victims but didn’t go to the police, we come in first.
Estes Park Police Chief Dave Hayes, who also serves as President of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, doesn’t need the Department of Justice to tell him crime is up here, but even he is shocked Colorado ranks higher than states like New York and Illinois.
“They are harmful, very addictive drugs that lead to other things.” Hayes says of the narcotics that have been decriminalized since the data was collected at least four years ago.
Hayes argues that victims may be less inclined to come forward because politicians have decreased consequences for many offenses. This year, legislation will be introduced that would make it illegal to arrest minors under the age of 12 for any crime other than murder.
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Under another piece of legislation, minor acts like trespassing, third-degree assault, and fourth-degree arson would no longer result in an arrest.
“So a person can give you a name and until that court date comes and goes, they can continue the behavior,” says Hayes.
The crime report has the attention of district attorneys as well. “This data shows us it’s a problem that under-reporting violent crime and property crime is a serious problem,” says 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner. According to him, state officials should be asking “why?“
“Why are people reluctant to report crimes to the police… to law enforcement?” asked Kellner. “Let’s look for what are trends within own state and then actually have data-driven solutions to them.” Kellner said the state should conduct its own poll annually.
Kellner and Hayes agree that people’s hesitation to report crime is likely related to a lack of trust in law enforcement. According to Hayes, this has also deterred people from pursuing careers in law enforcement, which has contributed to the rise in crime rates.
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