06 June 2008

Denver Crime Way Down In 2007

Denver saw a drop in crime (see the linked story's source here) for the second year in a row in 2007, across the board by type of crime, mostly in double digit percentages, and in all but a handful of neighborhoods. Some of those neighborhoods that saw the biggest increases in crime, like Stapleton and Green Valley Ranch, are simply seeing the side effects of massive population growth as new housing developments spring up.

Crime in my neighborhood, Washington Park West, is down more than 40% in two years.

This isn't simply a national trend:

Property crimes, which constitute the majority of offenses, fell by 11.2 percent last year. They fell by more than 15 percent in 2006.

Denver slashed violent crime by nearly 15 percent last year. . . .

According to the FBI, violent crime nationwide fell 1.8 percent in the first half of 2007 compared with the same period in 2006.

But in Denver, violent crime decreased 14.6 percent in the first six months of 2007 compared with the same period in 2006.

The big drop comes despite a weak economy and a lot of foreclosures in Denver. I'd be curious to see crime statistics from other metro area jurisdictions. Denver's real estate market has been, by far, the most healthy of the metro area. The suburbs have seen a collapse in construction and big drops in property values. Some have been hard hit by foreclosures compared to Denver. It is possible that we are seeing not a major reduction in metro area crime, but instead a suburbanization of crime as Denver proper gentrifies.

Mayor Hickenlooper cites DNA testing in burglary cases as a factor, but while this undeniably reduced burglaries dramatically in a few neighborhoods, burglary, where the DNA program was targeted didn't decline at rates notably greater than other crimes. Local meth production has virtually vanished as imports of meth replace garage labs, but that would be a national impact and Denver proper was never the epicenter of that particular part of the drug trade.

Another possibility is that the backs of some of Denver's gangs have quietly been broken. This factor is localized and responsible for a wide variety of crime types.

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