DENVER -Almost two months into 2016, Denver Police are scrambling to make the city safer than last year.
In 2015, crime rose in every neighborhood. Homicides hit a 10-year high.
In the home her family bought in 1960, Misheika Gaddis hopes to raise her two-year-old son in a safer city than the one she saw in last year.
"I just wish people would have appreciation for life," she said.
It's a wish she never knew she’d need to make.
"I found myself looking for her in like the normal areas I’d run into her," Gaddis said.
Her Aunt Renita Jackson was murdered on Dec. 2.
"I don’t see any reason that anybody could come in and take someone’s life," she said, pausing to hold back tears. "I’m sorry."
Jackson’s death – the 51st in 2015 – pushed Denver’s murder rate to a 10-year high.
For the last 10 months, Tina Ware has been searching for answers. On April 11, her uncle Abdul Muhammad was gunned down outside of his home. Two weeks later, her nephew, Nolan Ware, was shot and killed outside of Muhammad's funeral. Police know little about their deaths -- only that both homicides involved gangs. The suspects remain at large.Tonight at 9 and 10, 9NEWS reporter Whitney Wild takes a look at the crime wave that rolled through Denver, and asks Denver Police Chief Robert White how he plans to stop it.Posted by 9NEWS (KUSA) on Sunday, February 21, 2016
DOCUMENTS: Crime in Denver by neighborhood
That’s perhaps the most startling but not the only example of the crime wave that rolled through every neighborhood in Denver.
Crooks broke into 1,059 more cars, stole 903 more vehicles, committed 321 more aggravated assaults and burglarized 231 more homes than in 2014.
And Denver is not alone.
The FBI says in the first half of 2015, violent crime rose nationwide.
Thieves targeted 9NEWS Anchor Kyle Dyer’s home two weeks before Christmas.
"I think they put a deck chair down there and then kicked in that window," Dyer said.
And surprisingly, it happened at around 2:30 p.m.
"We live on a street where a lot of people work from home," Dyer said. "So I never thought someone would have the gall or the wherewithal to break in and not be noticed."
We asked Denver Police chief Robert White what’s going on.
"It says we have a lot of work to do," White said.
He attributes a rise in homicides to the 23 of murders that involved gangs. Usually DPD sees about a dozen gang homicides all year. Beyond that, he said, there's rarely a single force pushing up crime citywide.
"I just think there’s a litany of reasons why crime occur and there’s a litany of reasons why individuals commit crime," White said.
He has identified three ways to end the trend: Officers are moving to a new schedule that will put up to 40 more patrol officers on the street; a new goal for commanders that will allow shift officers to spend up to 35 percent of their day developing crime reduction strategies for targeted areas; and putting more emphasis on trust with the community.
"The reality is people are more inclined to work with us if they know us," White said. "If we treat them with dignity and respect, and feel like they have a voice."
By sharing her story, Gaddis hopes to inspire compassion, which may be the best crime fighting tool of all.
"There's all these families that are dealing with a lot of hurt and anger behind what somebody did," Gaddis said.
(© 2016 KUSA)