Reported crime in Denver dropped by nearly 10 percent last month

All thanks to COVID-19.

Denve Police officers on the scene of a shooting near the DSST Cole middle school at the Mitchell building, Aug. 28, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denve Police officers on the scene of a shooting near the DSST Cole middle school at the Mitchell building, Aug. 28, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Reported crime in Denver fell by 9.8 percent last month when compared to March of last year, according to preliminary data from the Denver Police Department.

Overall, Denver saw 498 fewer crimes reported last month (4,570) compared to March 2019 (5,068) as the city grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. There were 5,323 reported crimes in March 2018.

Last month’s total had the fewest number of reported crimes in Denver since at least February 2019, which recorded 4,516.

The daily reported crime average last month was 150; in March 2019, it was 163. The city saw a 24 percent drop in average daily reported crime from the beginning to the end of last month.

Police Chief Paul Pazen said most reported crimes dropped in the city, though there were some areas that remained flat. There’s been a significant decrease in theft overall, including larceny.

Pazen said that with more people at home, fewer packages are being stolen from doorsteps.

“That’s a perfect example of how the stay at home order is assisting in some certain crimes,” Pazen said. The order took effect on March 24, but Denver had been under unofficial lock down since at least mid-March.

Crimes including aggravated assault and car thefts haven’t really fluctuated. Pazen said commercial burglaries are “on-par” with what the city has seen in the past.

He said the department tries to look at crimes from a much wider perspective, including daily, weekly, annual and three-year trends. He cautioned that when viewed through short windows, crime trends don’t always necessarily tell the full story. But he acknowledged the drop in crime is due to the coronavirus.

Pazen said it doesn’t necessarily mean April will see a similar drop.

“Crime is trending down, but again, it doesn’t mean that we get to relax,” Pazen said. “There’s a shift, and we have to anticipate what that shift is.”

Pazen said the department is still holding crime strategy briefings, moving them online. These meetings involve all department’s districts, major crimes, special operations, the investigative support division, the department’s crime lab and the Denver District Attorney’s Office, and they cover crimes and analyze what’s working for the department.

Pazen credited the reduction in some part to the department’s shift in focus to crimes it anticipates may increase.

“I’m exceptionally proud of how quickly our team has pivoted in this, how they’ve transitioned and how we are having very significant, positive outcomes as a result of not solely focusing on COVICD-19 to the detriment of everything else,” Pazen said.

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