By Stan Bush
DENVER (CBS4) – For the first time under current Police Chief Robert White, crime is on the rise in Denver.
That dubious distinction comes from numbers released by Denver police showing a sharp climb in violent crime and property crime from 2014 to 2015.
Police say there are several theories on why crime has gone up in the city, but would not elaborate.
“You have to keep it in perspective. It’s easy to say the sky is falling,” said Matt Murray, a spokesman with the department. “Is there a problem? Yes. Are we concerned? Yes. But is the sky falling? No.”
“Is the chief ok with this?” asked CBS4’s Stan Bush.
“No,” Murray said.
The numbers reflect all crimes from January to October and compare 2015 to 2014.
Police attributed a significantly higher number of murders in 2015 (42) over the same period in 2014 (26) to gang violence. Police command say gang violence is difficult to contain and control because of retaliation.
Aggravated assault is up 14 percent.
Forcible sex offenses are up 12 percent.
Crimes against property have seen some of the sharpest changes.
Stolen property crimes have gone up 45 percent.
Motor vehicle theft is up nearly 25 percent.
Denver police say a majority of property crimes are crimes of opportunity and can be prevented by vigilance from residents.
Police say there are more officers on the street than last year. They cite a recent policy change that has officers working five 8 hour shifts a week instead of four 10 hour shifts. That change has added 17 officers per shift.
Despite the higher crime statistics, Denver police say the city is still one of the safest in the country and a model for cities of a similar size.