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Murder rates rising in metro Denver

Criminologists say there are no simple explanations or solutions.

DENVER — 2022 has been a violent year in metro Denver. One major area of concern is the rising number of murders.

There have been 55 murders in Denver this year, 10% more than this time last year, which had the most murders in Denver since at least 1981.

It's a similar story in Aurora. Last year, the city had 44 murders, the most since at least 2011. This year, there have already been 28 murder victims, nearly 50% more than the same time last year.

Metro State professor Stacey Hervey said the reasons for the rise in murders this year are varied, and she doesn't see it getting better anytime soon.

"We have a large juvenile population. Juvenile populations tend to drive the crime rate in big cities, and then we have a huge problem with fentanyl and opioids all across the country, but especially in Denver," Hervey said.   

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Hervey also said the increases in murders in Colorado and nationwide this year are, in part, the result of a general shift in policing after the George Floyd protests in 2020.

"We really asked police officers to not be as involved, defund the police, ask them to come up with different ways. And that's all good, but the reality is crime is still going to occur and there are people out there who are going to take advantage of other people," Hervey said.

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