How bad is crime in Colorado? We examined 35 years of data to put today’s trends in context.

Some types of crime surged during the pandemic, others didn’t — and where you live can make a big difference
Homeless Killed Denver
Posted at 10:37 AM, Jan 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-23 15:25:42-05

Is Colorado less safe than it used to be?

The answer is not as simple as the question seems. It depends on where you live, who you ask and against which decade you’re comparing today’s crime.

Colorado, like many other states, has experienced shocking spikes in violence during the pandemic. The state’s homicide rate in 2020 surged to a 25-year high after 293 people were killed, leaving more than five people dead every week, on average. Motor vehicle thefts and aggravated assaults, like shootings and stabbings, skyrocketed statewide as well.

Concerns about crime and public safety featured prominently in speeches by Colorado’s top political leadership on the opening day of the 2022 legislative session and will be a major topic in the year’s lawmaking and elections, including the governor’s race. Some observers have referred to recent trends as a crime wave or “tsunami.”

The public, too, is worried about crime. Nearly half of Coloradans surveyed by the Colorado Health Institute in the summer of 2021 said gun violence was a serious problem and 40% said crime generally was a serious problem. Those concerns, however, ranked lower than anxiety over homelessness, climate change and the cost of health care and housing.

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