Colorado enjoying a "crime tsunami" despite higher police funding

(Susan Greene/The Colorado Independent via AP)

While crime rates have been rising in most large cities in America for several years now, Denver, along with the entire state of Colorado, has been outpacing most of the rest of the country. All violent crimes, including murder and rape, have been up. Even property crimes are up at a time when they have finally begun to recede in several other states. National Review published a summary this week describing a “crime tsunami” gripping the state. And this is all taking place even after Denver vastly increased the budget for its police department two years after the “defund the police” madness drained their ranks.

But this isn’t something new, nor is it the first time that the phrase “crime tsunami” has been invoked in Colorado. That’s the same description that was applied by a pair of former district attorneys who published a comprehensive study of crime rates in the state last December. And despite the increased funding, things still haven’t changed appreciably. (CBS)

A new study finds violent crimes and property crimes are rising faster in Colorado than nationally. Common Sense Institute, a non-partisan research organization, says violent crime jumped 10% in the state last year, compared to 5% nationally, and property crime increased 8%, while it dropped 8% nationally.

The study puts the total cost of crime in Colorado at more than $27 billion in 2020.

“We are awash in a crime tsunami,” says former 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler.

He and former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrisey conducted the study that found crime has been on the rise in Colorado for the last 10 years. They say the murder rate is up 106%, rape up 9%, assault up 40%, and motor vehicle theft up 135%.

As I already mentioned, public officials have been attempting to curb these trends by refunding the police and they’ve been doing it in a big way. First, Denver ponied up more than $245 million, nearly half of the entire public safety budget, for the city’s police department. Then, in May of this year, the state legislature created a $30.5 million fund to help restore police departments to their previous levels. The funding was targeted toward the highest crime areas and included provisions to support law enforcement recruitment, retention, tuition and training; and, improving law enforcement diversity.

And yet, even as they were approving that funding, the “defund the police” activists were still protesting in the streets.

“This bill, and other similar ones around the nation, is window dressing for a deeper issue regarding the real training officers should receive,” said Dr. Robert Davis, co-lead of Denver’s task force to reimagine policing. “We need a stronger collective will to overhaul how we approach policing and policing training.”

Yes, Mr. Davis was a champion in the movement to “reimagine policing.” But they had already “reimagined ” it over the previous two years and everyone was able to see the results.

So some critics may point to Denver and say that restoring funding for the police isn’t effective in cutting our spiraling crime rates. But that’s a disingenuous argument. Denver’s police force wasn’t gutted overnight, opening the door to this “tsunami” of crime. It began in 2020 during the BLM riots and demands to defund the police and it took a couple of years to build to a head. Similarly, the problems will not all disappear overnight either. The remaining police were disheartened and demoralized, feeling as if the municipal and state governments had abandoned them. At the same time, criminal enterprises expanded to fill the void. It will take time to get those criminals off the streets and put some actual fear of law enforcement back into the rest of them. And the police need to grow secure in the belief that they will continue to receive support from the government and the community. All of this takes time. But at least they’re heading in the right direction at last.