By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4)– Three Colorado cities are seeing a dramatic increase in violent crimes, including homicides and shootings. That includes Aurora, Colorado Springs and Denver.

(credit: CBS)

In the first week of July, there were eight people killed in Denver. Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen says they are seeing a new level of violence.

“We talk about all violence is senseless. This is at different level, a level we haven’t seen in the past,” Pazen said.

He says that even typically minor disputes are turning deadly.

“We have had people being killed in our city over parking spots, killed over animals… killed in ways that really cause us all concern and we really need to understand, what’s driving that,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

According to Crime data from Denver Police there have been 44 homicides this year so far, that’s up from 31 at the same time last year. A more than 40% increase.

Pazen says their first priority is to get justice for each victim but understanding what’s behind the rise in crime is an important aspect of prevention.

“Is this a gang issue is it youth violence domestic violence drugs alcohol what are some of those precursors driving this,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

With other cities across the country as well as here in Colorado reporting similar trends; both Aurora and Colorado Springs are reporting sharp increases in violent crime, Pazen says it’s hard to ignore the impact the country’s current climate may be having.

“This one just feels different and if we talk about that national narrative and the divide in our country the global pandemic, the economic crisis,” Pazen said, “and then the social unrest, that is a lot of stress, anxiety, fear, anger a lot of emotion that potentially can manifest into violent behavior.”

Karen Morfitt