Homicides and aggravated assaults tip Colorado’s violent crime above national levels

Data Desk

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s violent crime rate increased at nearly double the national rate from 2019 to 2020, riding on spikes in homicide and aggravated assault.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation released 2020’s nationwide U.S. crime rates Tuesday.

Nationally, the U.S. saw a spike in violence last year, including murder rates in big metro areas. Violent crime rose 5.6% from 2019.

Colorado’s violent crime rate rose by nearly double the national rate. FBI stats say Colorado’s violent crime rate is 423 crimes per 100,000, slightly above the national violent crime rate of 399 per 100,000 and the highest since 1995.

It isn’t the rate itself that makes it notable, but how quickly it changed and how it surpassed the national rate the last three years running.

Among U.S. states, Colorado’s violent crime rate only ranks 21st – about in line with its share of the U.S. population.

The change between 2019 and 2020 was higher, though. Colorado’s violent crime rate rose by 10% year over year – the 14th highest increase.

This marks the third year its violent crime rate was worse than the U.S. as a whole.

Untill 2018, Colorado’s violent crime was substantially beneath the national rate.

Twenty U.S. states had violent crime rates above the national rate in 2020, but that’s normal for most of them. California, Louisiana, New Mexico and South Carolina’s violent crime rates have been above the national average every year since 1985, and most of the others for between ten and 30 years.

Only Colorado, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina and South Dakota have seen their violent crime rates go past the national level in the last five years.

Most of the increase comes from two categories – homicides and aggravated assaults.

Nationally, the homicide rate is its highest since 1997. Homicide rates have gone up in Colorado to their highest levels since 1995 – in fact, they’ve almost doubled since 2014 from 2.8 to 5.1.

Still, homicide rates are still below the national average.

The Centennial State’s robbery rate isn’t pushing the violent crimes to new highs on its own, either.

Colorado’s robbery rate has stayed relatively level since the mid-2000s, while the national rate has plummeted by 200 crimes per 100,000 since 1990.

Rape rates don’t account for the rise, either. Colorado’s rape rates have been above the national average most years in the past, but have trended down the last three years along with national rates.

Aggravated assault rates have risen the most dramatically. In 2020, Colorado has 100 more aggravated assaults per population than it did in 2013. The national rate only rose by half that number.

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