Denver homicide numbers are still higher than pre-pandemic levels (like the rest of the country)
Denver has seen fewer homicides so far this year compared to 2020, according to the latest figures recorded by the city’s Office of the Medical Examiner and provided to Denverite. At least 79 people died by homicide from January through mid-October, a 12 percent decrease from the same time period last year.
But it’s still higher than the average over the past decade.
“Across the nation, most cities have seen an increase in violence [since 2020],” said Steven Castro, operations manager with the medical examiner’s office. “What that’s related to exactly is still unclear.”
Denver logged 58 homicides by this point in 2019, according to the data. Last year, that number jumped to 90 incidents.
East Colfax saw the highest concentration of homicides, recording eight total in 2020, according to the Denver Police Department’s online crime map. Other neighborhoods that had more than three incidents included Athmar Park, Five Points, West Colfax and Sun Valley.
Young men between the ages of 19-39 made up the bulk of victims in 2020. More granular data for 2021 still hasn’t been published because many death investigations remain ongoing.
Among all groups in 2020, gunshot wounds accounted for more than 70 percent of the deaths — a trend similar to past years. Shootings have continued to account for the bulk of homicides this year, Castro said.
“We’re not seeing anything new that’s sticking out this year,” he said.
City leaders have launched efforts to address the rise in crime, with mixed results.
The Denver Police Department has upped its presence in several “hot spots.” The areas include several blocks around Alameda Avenue and Federal Boulevard, a large swath of downtown surrounding Civic Center Park and others.
Officers have also taken more illegal guns off the street. The number of illegal weapons the department collected this year has increased by 28 percent from recent years’ averages, said Paul Pazen, Denver’s chief of police.
“These types of situations, they don’t get fixed overnight,” Pazen said. “We’ve remained steadfast in our resolve to address them, and the best way to address that is in a collaborative approach with the entire community.”
Since the start of 2021, drug-related homicides have also jumped sharply, Pazen said, Homicides with a “narcotics nexus” have risen from 4 percent in 2020 to 22 percent in 2021.