Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series to look at violent crime in Denver. Click here to read our first two reports, “Denver Murder: Victims, Victims, Top Places to Murder” and “Denver Sex Crimes: Less than 50 Percent of Rapes Solved in Last Year”.
Of the more than 2,800 serious attacks that took place in Denver in 2017, law enforcement agencies have yet to resolve more than a thousand. And although many victims knew their attacker, well over 900 were injured by strangers.
The information comes from Colorado Crime Statistics, an excellent new website recently launched by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The website is very user-friendly and allows users to look up a wide variety of dates for specific time periods and jurisdictions.
We accessed the Denver Police Department digits that deal with violent crimes, including murder, non-consensual sex offenses, aggravated assault, and robbery in 2017, the most recent year for which final statistics are available.
Resolving cases in these combined categories last year proved to be a significant challenge. Only around 54 percent of DPD cases were classified as “resolved”, a term that CBI communications director Susan Medina defines as follows:
“Cleared in most cases means that one or more arrests have been made,” said Medina via email. “However, there are exceptions where an incident has come to a conclusion from a law enforcement perspective. An incident is also deleted if the perpetrator is found but not arrested. These are known as” exceptional clearances ” if the perpetrator is a juvenile who has been released for the parents, or if the perpetrator is determined to have died or if the perpetrator is in the custody of another jurisdiction. Extraordinary clearance can also be granted if the case does not proceed can either be through law enforcement rejecting the case or the victim rejecting cooperation. Then the incident is counted as resolved. “
In all cases, however, “resolved” means that law enforcement has found the perpetrator of the crimes committed in the reported incident, “she said.
The definition of a major attack used by the CBI is lengthy: “An unlawful attack by a person on another person in which the perpetrator uses a weapon or shows it in a threatening manner, or the victim obviously sustained serious or severe physical injury with obviously broken bones , Tooth loss, possible internal injury, serious injury or loss of consciousness. This includes attacks with diseases (as in cases where the perpetrator knows he is infected with a fatal disease and is deliberately trying to inflict the disease by biting, spitting, etc.) .). “
The locations where most of the major attacks took place in Denver last year were dominated by two general categories: streets and areas designated for parking lots and warehouses, and apartment buildings and homes. Just over 81 percent of these crimes fall under one of these umbrellas.
Here is the breakdown:
Street / Parking Lot / Camps: 1.232
Place of residence / residence: 1,046
Government / public building: 129
Other / Unknown: 62
Educational institution: 46
Construction / Industry / Farm: 5
A variety of weapons were used to carry out heavy attacks in Denver around 2017. Firearms and so-called “dangerous weapons”, a holder containing knives and blunt objects, ran neck to neck.
But “personal weapons” such as hands and feet have been the instruments of this crime on nearly 700 cases, and asphyxiation of various kinds has been documented on 36 occasions.
Here is this record:
Dangerous weapons: 947
Personal weapons (hands, fists, arms, feet, arms, teeth, etc.): 682
Motor vehicle as a weapon: 124
Asphyxiation (from drowning, choking, suffocation, gas): 36
Fire / Exposive: 8
Poison / drugs: 3
The ranking of injuries suffered by Denver victims in serious assaults in the past year is particularly shocking.
Granted, nearly 1,300 people appeared to have avoided injuries, and the wounds of nearly 700 others were classified as minor. But hundreds of people suffered “serious injuries”, “obviously broken bones”, “passed out” or “lost teeth”.
Obvious minor injury: 697
Serious Injury: 305
Other serious injury: 253
Possible internal injury: 250
Apparent fractures: 217
Tooth loss: 53
In 2017, Denver more men than women were victims of serious physical injuries, but the numbers are pretty close: 2,958 to 2,571.
In terms of age, most of the victims were 34 years of age or younger. Most of the victims were in the 25 to 34 demo, closely followed by the 18 to 24 year old. Worryingly, 256 children under the age of ten and 630 other young people between the ages of ten and seventeen were victims of grievous bodily harm last year.
The full numbers:
Below 10: 256
65 and older: 135
The number of offenders aggravated in Denver in 2017 were spread across all ages except children under the age of ten, and the second largest number is labeled “unknown” – presumably because they relate to unsolved cases.
However, 25 to 34 year olds made the most arrests, with a significant number.
The total number of perpetrators:
Under 10: 0
65 and older: 24
The highest number in the victim-perpetrator relationship in Denver last year involved strangers – an obvious difference between this category of crime and those involving murder and inconsistent sex offenses. But these digits can be deceiving.
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Add the numbers for “acquaintance”, “family”, and “intimate” and this suggests that most of the victims knew their attacker. The combination of the categories “stranger” and “unknown” results in an even larger sum.
Proceed with the results:
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Michael Roberts has been writing for Westword since October 1990 and has worked as a music editor and media columnist. It currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.