By Britt Moreno

DENVER (CBS4) – When Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen took office in July of 2018, he implemented a Domestic Violence Prevention Program. It is a cause close to his heart as the chief says he has “witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of domestic violence.”

Despite his hard work to reach out to both survivors and abusers in the community, there is a spike in violent assaults in the city. He zoomed with CBS4’s Britt Moreno to explain why he feels this is happening.

READ MORE: Colorado Senators Pass COVID Relief Bill As State GOP Leaders Blast Passage

From 2019 to 2020 the more violent, aggravated assaults went from 490 cases to 549. In those same years lower level assaults like pushing and shoving trickled down from 1,459 cases to 1,062.

“It is concerning to have low level crimes down but increase in violent assaults.”

The chief tells CBS4 the number of suicides and cases of child abuse have remained relatively flat year to year. Although one thing to factor in regarding child abuse and neglect is that children have been largely away from teachers and doctors this past year because of stay-at-home orders and remote learning. Those professionals are typically the ones who report instances of abuse or neglect.

The chief believes the pandemic contributes to a surge of negative emotions which thereby leads to aggression and the rise in crimes.

READ MORE: COVID In Colorado: National Jewish Administers Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

“Fear, stress, anxiety, anger, rage, these are negative emotions we are experiencing and often times in pre-pandemic you had more balanced approach with positive emotions that counteract that. Hope, love happiness, those things that keep us moving in a positive direction.”

Working together with the help of nonprofits and community members, the chief says, is the only way to pull through the pandemic and lower the rates of violent crimes.

“When you talk about public safety and trying to reduce crime often it’s the trauma that’s been afflicted by family members,” said Pazen.

The chief says his department will continue to support survivors and reach out to potential abusers. The Denver Police DEpartment has stopped in-person outreach efforts because of the pandemic, but they are still reaching out to people by phone, email and text.

Since the beginning of 2020 and through January 2021 the Domestic Violence Prevention Program has averaged 93 outreach attempts per month with an average of 27 successful outreach attempts per month in which detectives reached out to people and recommended resources. The chief stresses that police can help survivors safely with COVID-19.

MORE NEWS: Police: Kyle Daugherty Drove Stolen Aston Martin To Dealership, Fraudulently Paid For Porsche

“Just because you have to stay at home, doesn’t mean you have to stay with your abuser,” said Pazen.

Britt Moreno