One research team believes de-policing is a key contributing factor to the rise in violent crime in Denver. The term describes a withdrawal from active policing, often in response to public scrutiny.

Why it matters: The controversial claim stems from the fact that police in Denver and across the country continue to face fierce public criticism of excessive violence and brutality against people of color, and local policymakers are actively working to break away from the police force or to get rid of it altogether.

By the numbers: The city recorded the highest number of murders in nearly four decades, an increase that exceeded the number in 34 major cities, according to the researchers’ article in the Denver Post.

  • Even before COVID-19 hit, the number of violent crimes was increasing and the Denver Police Department made about 280 fewer stops a week compared to previous years.
  • A sharp drop in police stops coincided with protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, although crime rates rose.

What you say: The study’s authors argue that “proactive” policing reduces crime and that depleted trust in the police has also led to an increase in crime.

  • “We are not advocating stop-question-frisk, let alone stops,” said David Pyrooz, one of the authors and associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. He said communities need to help “define the problem that the police are proactively responding to”.

The other side: Paul Pazen, Denver Police Chief, told Alayna, “I agree with a lot … but nowhere in this article is there a talk of the resources themselves.”

  • Pazen said Denver police rely on data to locate “persistently violent hotspot locations” and pinpoint areas of highest crime.
  • A pandemic-ridden budget forced Denver to hire 97 fewer civil servants in 2020 than expected. Another 78 officials recently retired or left the company.
  • Denver’s police and sheriff budgets were still around $ 378 million, or about 28% of the city’s budget for 2021, Denverite reported.

What’s next: The Denver City Council remains “very interested” in reducing the size of the law enforcement agency and investing in alternative response systems, including the STAR program.

  • Council President Stacie Gilmore said that this would be a “major focus” in the next budget debate.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, which is designed to help readers get smarter and faster about the most important news in their own garden.