Denver police concerned about rising violent crime, ask public for help

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DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Police Department says it is concerned about the growing number of violent crimes in the city.

On Sunday afternoon, nine people were shot at a gathering in the Valverde neighborhood in southwest Denver.

The shooting is part of a growing trend of violence. From January through July of this year, Denver saw 47 homicides, which is 14 more than what was reported last year in the same time frame.

“It is not OK to have a violent surge in crime in Denver. It is not OK that a surge in crime is impacting our vulnerable populations,” DPD Chief Paul Pazen said.

It’s not just the growing number of gun incidents, but the types of crimes.

Crime statistics show aggravated assaults with a firearm increased 30% over the past 3 years.

So far this year, 422 guns have been stolen, according to Pazen. That’s 100 more than last year during the same time period.

In the shooting Sunday, children ages 3, 11 and 12 were shot. All of the victims are expected to survive.

They were reportedly attending a family gathering at a small park where a music video was being filmed when the drive-by shooting sent people running for cover. Police say the children’s families are not cooperating with investigators.

Investigators are saying it’s too early to tell if the shooting was gang-related.

“We need family, friends and witness cooperation so we can hold these people accountable,” said Pazen.

Because of the growing concern, police have now formed special teams that fan out Saturday and Wednesday nights — the most violent nights of the week.

DPD says hot spots include the far northeast part of the city, East Colfax, West Colfax and South Federal.

Mayor Michael Hancock said, “We will refuse to accept that this is a new normal in the life of this city — one of the cities that has been one of the safer cities in the country.”

While a definitive cause for the surge in violence is unclear, stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may be partly to blame.

“We don’t want a Denver contagion where people look at this and say, ‘We can get away with things.’ It’s a tough problem. It’s getting out of hand and no one person can solve this,” said Dr. John Nicoletti, a police and public safety psychologist.

Late Tuesday afternoon, police officers began handing out flyers offering help to neighbors traumatized by the Valverde shooting.

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