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Study shows sharp increase in crimes against Denver homeless population

42% increase over 4-yrs in crimes against homeless
Posted at 6:41 PM, Jan 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-15 20:41:14-05

DENVER— It’s not just the freezing cold endangering Colorado’s homeless. New numbers show crimes against transients is way up in the Denver Metro Area.

Our partners at the Denver Post found crimes against homeless people rose 42% in Denver, and suburban officers believe it’s pushing transients into their towns.

According to the Post, Denver Police reported 1,008 crimes involving homeless victims between January 1st and December 27th of 2017.

Denver7 connected with some area homeless who said a lot of crimes they’ve either experienced or witnessed happened within the transient community.

“I do not feel safe on the streets at all,” Kiki Swinson said. She stood outside Denver’s Rescue Mission and described being attacked more than nine times in the last year and a half.

“I got a bite mark right here,” she said, as she held her hand to the camera.

This was just one example of a battle wound that more homeless people seem to be reporting to police.

“Probably overall, it has been homeless against homeless,” Gregory Williams said.

Williams has been homeless for the last four years. He said he often spends his days on a street corner, asking for help from passing drivers.

According to DPD statistics, most of the reported crimes include assault, theft, robbery and rape. In 2017, officers mostly responded to reports of simple assaults.

“You have to understand, you're dealing with a lot of mentally ill people,” Williams said.

He said he’s managed to avoid any real issues on the streets.

“You know, fights and people taking other peoples' things. You know, that's like a daily occurrence, actually,” he said.

DPD told our partners at the Post one reason the numbers have skyrocketed could be the uniformed officers being strategically placed where many of the homeless gather.

However, many people we spoke with referenced the camping bans and homeless sweeps that have forced them into unfamiliar areas.

“Usually, when I'm out here on this corner, you know I get hassled a little bit by some of the neighborhood people in this area,” Williams said as he stood on Market Street in downtown Denver.

Denver Human Services told our partners at the Denver Post that 86% of the City’s homeless rely on shelters, transitional housing and safe havens. However, others fair in the Colorado elements.

Reacting to the new study and his situation, Williams said, “My father used to say, ‘You make your bed, lie in it.’ In other words, deal with your situation, and that's what I'm dealing with right now.”