Violent Crimes in Denver Up, Number of Sex Offenses Cleared Down

Violent Crimes in Denver Up, Number of Sex Offenses Cleared Down
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Violent crime in Denver went up by nearly 8 percent from 2017 to 2018, and murders rose by more than 10 percent during the same period. And while the total number of sex crimes in the Mile High City over this span fell slightly, the offenses that were cleared by law enforcement took a substantial dip. Last year, Denver rapists were identified and/or arrested in only about four of ten cases.

These statistics and more were part of new information recently shared on Colorado Crime Statistics, an indispensable online database maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. To date, most coverage of the new digits has focused on the CBI's first-ever compilation of details related to hate crimes, and that's understandable, since the 185 incidents documented for the state is nearly double the 96 counted by the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in 2017.

But the site also allows users to drill down to specific jurisdictions, as we did last year following its launch to explore Denver-specific details about murder, sex crimes, aggravated assaults and robbery. The digits about Denver we unearthed allow us to directly compare facts and figures from 2017 and 2018, as well as how many of the Denver Police Department's cases were designated as "cleared," a term CBI communications director Susan Medina defines like so:

"'Cleared,' in most cases, means one or more arrests were made," Medina explains via email. "However, there are exceptions where an incident has reached a conclusion from the law enforcement perspective. An incident is also cleared if the offender is found but not arrested. These are called 'exceptional clearances.' Exceptional clearance occurs when the offender is a juvenile released to the parents, or if the offender is found to be deceased or if the offender is found to be in the custody of another jurisdiction. Also, an exceptional clearance may occur if the case cannot proceed by either prosecution declining the case or the victim refusing to cooperate. Then the incident is counted as cleared."

In all cases, though, "'cleared' means law enforcement has found the perpetrator of the crimes which occurred in the reported incident," she stresses.

When it comes to hate crimes, Denver contributed more than its share. The number of folks living in Denver in 2018, as opposed to the metro area in general, is estimated at 716,492, or about 12.6 percent of the approximately 5,696,000 Colorado residents last year. However, the 35 hate crimes in Denver circa 2018 represents 18.9 percent of the 185 statewide.

Just over half of these crimes were cleared in both Denver and Colorado, with the vast majority here falling under two umbrellas: race/ethnicity/ancestry bias (16) and sexual-orientation bias (11). In the former category, African-Americans were by far the most likely to be victimized in Denver (10) and Colorado (47). But religious bias, which is distressingly prevalent across Colorado, was registered infrequently in Denver, where just two of the 26 hate crimes of this type took place.

Here's the hate-crime breakdown for Denver, followed by the Colorado stats. The graphic below takes a look at hate-crime victims by offense type, location and victim type.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts