DENVER (KDVR) — 2021 has already tied the record as the deadliest year for Colorado law enforcement. One more on-duty Colorado police officer killing will break the decade record.
The June 21 killing of Arvada Police Department Officer Gordon Beesley in Olde Town Arvada didn’t push the state over the edge of its police violence records, but it did nudge it close.
Beesley was the fourth law enforcement officer to die this year, the second killed intentionally and the sixth shot.
Thankfully, lethal violence against police is not the problem in Colorado that it is elsewhere. Colorado’s rates of assault on police and felonious killings of police are both below that national average according to a previous Data Desk analysis of U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation records.
Still, yesterday’s shooting has caused Colorado’s 2021 to match previous records for the whole year.
Since 2011, criminals have killed 12 Colorado law enforcement officers.
In each of 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018, there were two felonious police killings for the whole year. Yesterday put the Colorado total at those previous records by mid-year.
Broadly, police killings have corresponded to a statewide violent crime rate increase. The number of homicides just in the first five months of 2021 has already matched the entire year’s homicide count for 2008, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigations data.
Last year was the most violent year on record, with 299 statewide homicides. At 124 homicides through May, the state is currently on track to meet or exceed that record in 2021.
An increase in national police deaths colored 2020 the same way as violence crime.
2020 was the second most lethal year on record for law enforcement officers with 295 nationwide.
Only 1930 had a greater amount of deaths with 312.
Law enforcement deaths swelled during the U.S. prohibition on alcohol from 1920-1933. A crime wave in the late 1960s and early 1970s produced similar results.
As of June 22, there have been 151 police deaths in the U.S. – over half the 2020 record.