Violence in Denver is posting a double-digit percentage increase and murders are on pace to approach a decades-old record, says the Denver Post. Homicides are up 69 percent through June compared with the first six months of 2003, part of an overall 7.6 percent increase in crime this year. Delbert Elliott, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado, said the city’s increase seems to reflect a national trend. “It doesn’t surprise me,” Elliott said, referring to early statistics from such places as Los Angeles where the rate is up. “Clearly, my impression is that the homicide rate and violent crime in general have bottomed out in recent years and probably are started back up. It could be a blip. I’m betting it’s not.”
While murders are up, forcible rapes are down 10 percent. While aggravated assault is up nearly 73 percent, simple assault is down 15 percent. Denver police Division Chief Steve Cooper said no real pattern has emerged, especially among homicides. “We have experienced a significant increase in the number of homicides, but I don’t think you can put your finger on one specific reason,” said Cooper, head of the patrol division. “This has happened to us in years before when all of a sudden we have a spike.” If the rate continues to hold for the year, Denver could approach its all-time high water mark for homicides – 108 in 1980.