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Denver Police officers arrest a man found to have an outstanding warrant on the 200 block of 15th Street on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Denver, Colo. Police initially contacted the man and two others for trespassing on marked private property before finding the outstanding warrant. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

The latest disturbing data on Denver’s crippling crime wave should infuriate the city’s residents — and prompt them to demand action by their elected leaders. Most notably, it should motivate them as voters in this fall’s balloting, and in municipal elections next spring, to elect those who pledge to take the city back from the criminal element.

As The Gazette reported Tuesday, Colorado’s Common Sense Institute released a new analysis this week detailing the crime tsunami that has inundated our state. The report’s numbers for the first half of this year for Denver and the surrounding area are especially troubling.

Metro Denver is awash in rising crime, according to the analysis, with crime stats that are among the worst in the country when compared with other cities during 2022’s first six months.

For example, car theft in Denver is second highest among 167 larger cities nationwide — three other Colorado cities also rank in the Top 10 — according to the Common Sense findings. (Colorado as a whole continues to lead the nation in auto thefts for the second year in a row, as noted in prior research by the think tank. The new report finds auto thefts are on track to exceed 48,000 this year.)

Denver’s numbers are similarly alarming in some other categories. The Mile High City ranks 10th-highest for larceny — for the second year in a row that Common Sense has been tracking the standings. Denver also ranks fourth-worst for all property crimes. It is eighth for rape.

While Denver ranks “only” 32nd for homicides, that’s in itself five notches higher than a year earlier, when Denver ranked 37th. Meanwhile, the total number of homicides in Denver currently stands at 63, and while that’s slightly below last year’s 68 at this point in the year, former Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen recently pointed to the possibility that the city’s death toll by year’s end could exceed last year’s mark of 96 homicides.

Bottom line: Denver’s crime profile is grim.

The new Common Sense study — authored by former Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, former 18th Judicial District Attorney (and Gazette columnist) George Brauchler, and economist Steven Byers — rightly pins some of the blame on soft-on-crime legislation enacted at the Capitol. Let’s add Denver’s own notoriously, and naively, “justice reform”-minded current district attorney, Beth McCann, to the list of those responsible.

Denver voters must give new marching orders to their elected leaders: crack down on crime. That applies to Denver’s elected delegation to the legislature; to the DA, whose seat is up for election again in 2024; to the Denver City Council, and of course to next spring’s mayoral contenders seeking to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Hancock.

All candidates for those offices must be grilled by the public and the press about what they intend to do to curb crime. Candidates for office must state unequivocally what steps they would take that are realistically within reach of the elected offices they seek.

They must make it their first order of business to crack down on the crime wave that is undermining Denver’s basic quality of life — and causing too many of its law-abiding citizens to live in fear.

Denver Gazette Editorial Board

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