DENVER (KDVR) — During the first 10 months of 2022, there were no murders in the Westwood neighborhood, according to Denver Police Department statistics.
There were three homicides during the same period in 2021.
Westwood sits near what has been described as a crime hotspot. It’s the type of area newly named Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas said the department must focus on.
“Our homicides, our nonfatal shootings, those are things I really want to drive down. Those happen to occur in a very small percentage of our city,” Thomas said.
The chief made those comments shortly before speaking at an annual safety luncheon on Tuesday. It’s a chance for officers and leaders of other agencies to talk about how they are trying to keep the city safe.
They talked about new innovations in their strategies.
Westwood neighborhood sees improvement
Thomas told FOX31 that the Westwood neighborhood is an example of how strategic policing can work. The neighborhood is one area where police have been trying to reduce crime.
In its heart is a creative district along Morrison Road, lined with colorful murals. Thomas Padilla owns the One Stop Bike Shop here.
“In 30 years, there have been quite a few changes. I use to have a lot more breaking in windows and even break-ins. It used to happen so often, those windows got expensive,” Padilla said.
Padilla said things are better now, but there are still problems. He credits the improvements to changes made in how police patrol here.
‘Infrastructure’ impacts crime numbers, chief says
At the crime safety lunch, Chief Thomas said violent crime in troubled neighborhoods like Westwood must be reduced. He said more police must be put in neighborhoods like these, and multi-faceted crime-fighting strategies are needed too.
“I don’t think it’s always the people that make a hotspot a hotspot. I think sometimes it’s the infrastructure that causes a hotspot to remain a hotspot,” Thomas said.
Back at the One Stop Bike Shop, Padilla is encouraged by what he’s seeing.
“I do think the police presence, it helps to have more police presence,” Padilla said.
Padilla is hoping that as Westwood evolves, crime becomes less of a problem here.
Robberies were also down 18% from January to September of this year. There was a slight increase in assaults at 9%.
FOX31 was told DPD continues working with Westwood and other neighborhoods to fight the most violent of crimes.