DENVER — In 2020, Denver recorded the highest number of homicides it has seen in at least three decades. Denver Police Department (DPD) data from late June of 2021 shows the city is on pace to beat or meet last year's number.
As of June 28 of this year, DPD recorded 43 homicides. That's up from 39 homicides through that same timeframe in 2020. Denver ended 2020 with 95 homicides on record which was 50% more than in 2019. That year, Denver recorded 63 homicides.
"Last year I said 'look out' and we had one of the worst Julys we have ever had," said Jason McBride who works on secondary violence prevention with the Struggle of Love Foundation.
McBride devotes his time to helping kids stay out of trouble. Courts and schools refer kids to him, and McBride said many of these kids are usually involved in shootings.
"I was one of these kids who was wrapped up in the gangs and I made it out of there," he said. "I navigated my way out of all of those situations."
The Struggle of Love Foundation is a non-profit created to provide social activities for disadvantaged youth and families. McBride said he believes their programs help combat violence in the city.
"You have a ticking time bomb on social media," he said. "You have a lot of kids that are beefing on social media. We need to start to identify areas, programs, resources that we can throw at these kids."
As part of a previously-announced collaborative aimed at reducing a surge of crime in the city, Denver this year named five hotspots with a disproportionate number of homicides, aggravated assaults and shootings as compared to their landmass.
In a release announcing the kickoff to crime prevention work in southwest Denver, DPD said these five areas account for 1.56% of the city’s landmass (excluding Denver International Airport) but 26.1% of homicides and aggravated assaults and 49% of all shooting victims.
Those areas are:
- South Federal Boulevard and West Alameda Avenue
- Colfax Avenue and Broadway
- East Colfax Avenue and Yosemite Street
- East 47th Avenue and North Peoria Street
- Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and North Holly Street
From Sunday night into early Monday morning, DPD responded to five shootings. Police said none of the injuries were life-threatening.
"We have had this a few nights this year already and this is just the beginning," said McBride.
Back in December 2020, Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen told 9Wants to Know that COVID-19 appears to be a significant cause of Denver’s alarming increase in homicides — not because of the pandemic’s effect on the way his officers are policing, but instead, on the way some people are behaving.
Pazen added that the growing number of illegal guns on the streets this year has also contributed to the increase in violence.
Last year, he said he was hoping 2021 brings a major reduction in murders, but he said he was not optimistic.
"The change in the calendar doesn’t completely erase the issues that we’re facing, and the issues, the challenges, are significant," Pazen said in December 2020.
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