Until Denver police shot and killed a man they say pointed a gun at officers on Aug. 6, the department had gone more than a year without a police shooting, says the Denver Post. It was a quiet span not seen there in roughly 50 years. Aurora, Co., police, meanwhile, have shot seven people, killing five, since the beginning of the year — incidents that occurred amid a sharp increase in violence against police that also saw two officers shot by suspects. There is no clear explanation for such a dramatic difference between cities with a common border.
Depending on the actions of suspects, the two communities could find their situations reversed, said Denver police Lt. Matt Murray, a former homicide detective who serves as a department spokesman and aide to Chief Gerry Whitman. Both departments have efforts underway to curb the number of officer-involved shootings, from a more aggressive approach to firearms offenses, to training on how to deal with people in crisis and using less-lethal-force options such as rubber bullets. Aurora Chief Dan Oates has tried to put his finger on what’s happening in his city, where two fatal officer-involved shootings involved armed men who took people hostage. “We’ve had extreme incidents that are way out of character for Aurora,” Oates said. “My sense is in my 30-plus year career, the propensity to challenge officers in a potentially armed confrontation is up, and it’s obviously very concerning.”