The homicide rate on the Colorado’s Ute Mountain Ute Indian reservation has soared to nearly 50 times the national average, prompting the state’s new U.S. attorney to label it “the murder capital of Colorado,” says the Rocky Mountain News. Law enforcement is so scarce on the roughly 600,000 acres in the state’s southwest corner that criminals have taken to calling in false crime reports on one end of the reservation. With police drawn an hour or more away, the criminals then strike on the opposite end. The area’s only FBI agent often is in Denver when a crime needs to be investigated. Not enough police are available to secure many crime scenes, and the court responsible for handling misdemeanors on the reservation recently went almost a year with no prosecutor.
“This is a very significant issue, not just for the people living on the reservation, but also for the communities around it,” said Troy Eid, U.S. Attorney for Colorado. This year, five slayings and one unexplained death have occurred on the reservation, which has a population of about 2,000. That equals a homicide rate of 250 killings for every 100,000 people – 25 times last year’s rate for Denver and Aurora. The national rate in 2005 was 5.6 homicides for every 100,000 people. “The fundamental issue is a basic lack of law enforcement on the ground,” Eid said.