(DENVER) Crime in Denver is down 7.4% compared to the first five months of 2005, according to data released by the Denver Department of Safety this week. The 2006 year-to-date figures compiled by the Safety Office of Policy Analysis show that robberies are down 14.4% and major property crimes are down more than 13.5% when compared to the same time frame in 2005. The Westwood neighborhood, home to DPD’s “Broken Windows policing” demonstration project, has seen a dramatic 21.5% reduction in crime, providing reinforcing of DPD’s new order-maintenance and data-driven strategies.
“We are optimistic about this preliminary decline in crime and the direction in which we are moving,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper. “These trends reflect the outstanding efforts of Denver police officers and the support and collaboration of the community. We look forward to building upon this progress, tailoring successful strategies to the specific needs of individual neighborhoods throughout the city.”
Following the near-record high homicide rate of 91 murders in 2004, 2005 saw a significant decrease of 33% in the homicide rate. Of the 61 homicides in 2005, DPD had a 75.8% clearance rate – well above the national average of 62%. The year-to-date homicide figures for 2006 are currently level with the reduced 2005 rate.
Across the board, measured police activity in 2006 – in terms of tickets and arrests – has increased compared to the first five months of 2005. In both 2005 and 2006, Denver saw an increase in drug arrests which manifests itself as an increase in reported crime, but positively represents enhanced police enforcement activities. Major property crimes increased by 587 in 2005, but have already decreased by 1,751 in the first five months of 2006. The key arrests of several suspected pattern burglars as well as heightened public education efforts have contributed to this dramatic decrease.
“The reduction in crime is a credit to our officers’ determination, focus, and sense of urgency,” said Police Chief Gerald Whitman. “Officers are leveraging better data and new policing strategies to strategically address crime hot spots and stop emerging crime patterns.”
Following a significant decline in reported sexual assaults in 2004, the number of reported sexual assaults in 2005 returned to levels closer to the 10-year average, a trend that continues to date in 2006.
“Our hope and expectation is that rather than an increase in actual assaults, these numbers reflect an increase in victims’ reporting – which has long been a direct objective of the Sexual Assault Interagency Council” said SAIC’s Mary Loring. “For more than a decade, service providers and law enforcement have worked together to simplify the reporting process, provide comprehensive support services to victims, and reduce the stigma of sexual assault. As a consequence of these efforts, it is gratifying – not alarming – to see more reporting. Sexual assault is the most underreported violent crime, so there remains significant room for growth in these numbers. We appreciate DPD’s efforts to identify offenders and hold them accountable for these unacceptable crimes.”
Vital to DPD’s efforts to strategically address neighborhood crime issues in the future is the new Command Operations Review and Evaluation (CORE) process, launched in March 2006, which focuses on real-time data collection and analysis, decentralized decision-making, strategic targeting of resources at crime trends, and developing community partnerships. The new CORE approach empowers district and other command staff to prioritize neighborhood crime problems and solve them creatively, while holding them accountable for making effective use of all the resources within their control. District Commanders appear before the Chief and his top staff weekly to summarize crime data from their districts and strategies being employed to address emerging crime trends.
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