2021 Leg Session, Crime, Criminal Justice, Gold Dome

McKean: Colorado’s crime wave must be a legislative priority

Public safety is and should be one of our highest priorities as a state government. Ensuring that Colorado families feel safe and that our laws are upheld has always been a cornerstone of Republican policy.

Unfortunately, today we find ourselves in a position of weakness. Laws passed in the last few years have put our way of life at risk. The policies have hit urban neighborhoods especially hard and have forced families to choose between living where they want or moving to where they feel safe. That’s not fair.

These issues were reaffirmed earlier this year when the Colorado Bureau of Investigation released the 2020 crime statistics. I was alarmed, but sadly unsurprised after what I had witnessed over the last year.

Since 2019, Colorado has seen a drastic rise in crime rates:

  • 6.5% increase in violent crimes.
  • 10.4% increase in property crimes.
  • 18% increase in aggravated assaults.
  • 29% increase in homicides.
  • 38.6% increase in motor vehicle theft.
  • 51% increase in Denver metro homicides.

As a result of this shocking reality, Colorado — especially the Denver metro area — is in a very different place in 2021, and not for the better.

During this legislative session, the issue of rising crime rates was a constant concern. I worked with colleagues to address these issues through various pieces of legislation, like providing funding for state-mandated body cameras and expanding programs for peace officers; sadly, many of our efforts were halted by Democrats.

As the “Defund the Police” movement swept through Colorado, so did the rise in crime that has continued to threaten our public safety. Now, as a result, Coloradans face a real criminal justice crisis that threatens public safety across the state. It is clear that the need to prioritize public safety in our neighborhoods is more important than ever.

Last session, Democrats chipped away at your safety by prioritizing legislation that sided with criminals over victims by reducing bail, cutting prison time, and punishing law-abiding citizens.

The results of their agenda are showing as crime continues to surge. By condemning all law enforcement officers as bad cops, de-policing is rising and officers are pulling back from proactive policing. A reduction in the number and activity of police officers results in more dangerous criminals on the streets and posing a dangerous threat to communities.

The Denver County Court and district attorney are exacerbating the problem by releasing a record number of individuals who were arrested with either low or no bonds. The problem has gotten so bad that the Denver Police Chief has turned to federal courts for help. With fewer police officers to intercept crime, or little to no punishments even when they do, there is very little moral obligation to follow the law anymore.

As a result, Coloradans are left with unsafe neighborhoods.

Studies show that proactive policing lowers crime. We need well-trained officers policing our streets in order to keep crime rates down. That is why Colorado Republicans have prioritized public safety and are working with experts in the field to provide better training and funding for our current and new officers, to ensure a comprehensive approach to lowering crime across Colorado.

In this upcoming session, we plan to announce more legislation that will promote effective policing and provide the tools necessary for departments across the state to properly train and recruit officers who are committed to exceptional service in their communities.

Police activity in communities matters, and Colorado Republicans are committed to protecting and prioritizing public safety for every single Coloradan. It won’t be easy, but we have dedicated partners, genuine public servants, and a Republican commitment to the families of Colorado to solve this vexing problem.

Rep. Hugh McKean is the Colorado House Minority Leader, representing District 51 in Loveland.  A version of his article originally appeared in the Loveland Reporter-Herald.


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