13 January 2009

Denver Crime Down

Violent crime in Colorado's largest cities fell 6.2 percent in the first half of 2008, surpassing the nationwide decline [according to the] FBI's Preliminary Semi Annual Uniform Crime Report . . . Cumulatively, property crime in the largest Colorado cities was down 12.7 percent, with every one of the individual cities reporting an overall decline. Violent crime was more of a mixed bag, with Aurora, Centennial, Colorado Springs, Denver and Thornton reporting overall declines, and Arvada, Fort Collins, Lakewood and Westminster reporting increases. . . .

In Denver, violent crime fell 12.7 percent and property crime fell 19.5 percent. If the numbers hold, 2008 would be Denver's third consecutive year of double-digit decreases in crime. . . . Denver saw a 23.8 percent decrease in murders, from 21 in the first half of 2007 to 16 in the first half of 2008. Overall, Denver's 16 murders accounts for about one-third of the 47 murders in Colorado's largest cities.

From here.

Crime was also down nationally in 2008, repeating a drop in 2007, that follow a small 2005-2006 bump after crime reached record low levels in 2004. But, national 3.5% declines in violent crime and 2.5% in property crime were exceeded in Colorado.

Most people think that crime rates and personal bankruptcies are closely tied to business cycles, but the numbers tell a different story. Business bankruptcies and domestic violence incidents coincide with recessions, and white collar crime prosecutions predictably follow market crashes. But, personal bankruptcies most closely track overall consumer debt levels (which aren't terribly cyclic), and ordinary crime is more closely related to factors like the aggregate number of people who are in military service, correctional institutions and mental health institutions.

In the City and County of Denver, the large three year trend may represent a combination of the gentrification of the central city and the impact of improved policing efforts.


Michael Malak said...

Immigrants are returning home, so one would assume gang membership is waning.

(On the other hand, one of the benefits of increased population from immigrants was that they helped prop up housing prices, which are now falling, in part due to new anti-immigrant laws and increased enforcement of previously existing laws.)

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

You are correct that immigrants are returning home in droves. But, I doubt immigration has much positive impact on crime, as immigrants are greatly under represented among convicted felons in the state.

I am also suspicious of the claim that enforcement, as opposed to economic conditions, have had a meaningful impact on immigration in Colorado. The laws appear to have had very little practical impact.

The economic boom, generally, was important to Denver's housing prices, and construction related immigrant labor was certainly part of that boom. But, the fact that Denver's housing market is among the least impacted, despite the fact that Denver has a much larger immigrant population than much more strongly impacted than many housing markets, casts doubt on immigration as an important part of the equation.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, with all those concealed-carry permits out there, how come Coloradans aren't slaughtering each other in droves?

[irony off]

Michael Malak said...

Sorry, my Northern Virginia colors are showing through. (I moved to Washington Park in 2006, but have still kept up with the news back in Northern Virginia.)

In Prince William County, the new anti-immigrant laws are being directly linked to housing prices falling faster than neighboring counties.