new denver task force

Gun violence is on the rise in Colorado, authorities have reported six separate shootings from early morning Sunday August 1, to the early hours of Monday August 2, 2021. Four of these shootings occured in Denver. The other two shootings were in the outer metro area. In the first six months of 2021, 43 people’s lives were claimed killed in Denver homicides alone. 39 people were killed in Denver in the same period of 2020. 83 people were wounded in shootings in Denver between January 1 and June 12, 2021. 75 people were shot and injured in the same period of 2020. By the end of 2020, 305 people had been shot, which was a 51% increase from 2019. With shootings and gun violence on the rise, Denver police have established a new two-person team which will be cracking down on violent offenders. Teaming up with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local and federal prosecutors plan to bring heavy penalties, and in some cases even federal charges, against people convicted of felonies who illegally carry guns. The move comes as the state of Colorado is experiencing an extremely  violent summer which is on pace to exceed the bloodshed of 2020.

Gun Violences Erupts Over the Weekend

Denver police said the first shooting happened around 12 a.m. Sunday, August 1, closing down a lane of traffic in the area of South Federal Boulevard and West Iliff Avenue. One person was injured. Then, around 4 a.m. police say a shooting occurred in the 1700 block of West Mississippi Avenue. One woman and two girls were injured in the shooting. In Aurora, police continue to investigate a shooting, which occurred around 5:30 p.m. Sunday at 19th Avenue and Clinton Street. Authorities do not have anyone in custody and they’re asking for anyone with info to reach out; one man underwent surgery for his injuries. You can contact Aurora police with any info you may have here.

denver task force

Another two other shootings occurred Sunday around 9 p.m.. One of the shootings occured in the Clayton neighborhood of Denver. One man was taken to the hospital after being shot in the 3600 Block of North Elizabeth Street. Then in Jefferson County, one man suffered an injury after being shot in the 3500 block of South Depew Street. Shortly before 3 a.m. on Monday, shots were fired at the downtown intersection of Speer Boulevard and Larimer Street. One person was taken to the hospital with non-fatal injuries while police shut down a few area streets to investigate. These types of crimes will be what the new team, created by Denver police, will investigate. 

How Will The New Team Work?

The new inter-agency team will focus on the geographic “hot spots” in the city. The “hotspots” are five parts of the city that make up 2% of Denver’s landmass but that 2% is responsible for 26% of homicides and 49% of shootings. “The reality is we were seeing a rise in violent crime before the pandemic and the pandemic exacerbated what we were seeing and continue to see even today,” Mayor Michael Hancock said during a news conference. “The scholars, the academics, they talk about ‘hotspots’ and ‘hot people,” Denver police Chief Paul Pazen said. “This gives us an opportunity to focus on those ‘hot people.’” Pazen said the new team will respond to shootings to assist officers with building gun violence cases from the beginning of an investigation. The team will also review cases that involve a felon in possession of a gun to see whether they should be prosecuted locally or at the federal level. Pazen said an offender’s criminal history and background will factor heavily into the decision of how to charge. Pazen said Denver police have seized 1,170 guns so far in 2021 and have made 415 arrests of people illegally carrying guns, which is up 48% from the past three years. “It’s no secret that violent crime is on the rise, gun-related crime is on the rise in our city,” he said. “We cannot become numb to this gun violence, we cannot normalize this gun violence. The status quo is not acceptable.”

Matt Kirsch, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, said the team will use a mix of things to identify the criminals who are the “worst of the worst.” “This strategy uses data from police reports, from gunshot detection technology, from the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network… to focus law enforcement’s efforts on criminals who are most likely to be possessing and using guns. What the new effort today adds to that is data about where the most violent crimes are occurring, as well as other on-the-ground intelligence from DPD officers and the additional investigative efforts to develop those federal cases. We are not going to hesitate to vigorously pursue those charges,” Kirsch said at a news conference, Wednesday. As officials at Denver police headquarters spoke to unveil the new anti-gun violence initiative, the federal courthouse downtown was forced to lock down because of a shooting outside. No one was hurt, but police said at least one pedestrian exchanged gunfire with a person in a vehicle. One person was arrested. This almost seems staged to make the point of the conference but just shows us how important the work of the new team is. Dangerous criminals walk the streets everyday and innocent people suffer for it. Shootings are not caused by guns, they are caused by the people carrying them. If people were able to use guns responsibly we would not have so many gun control issues and people ready to take the right to bear arms away. The new team will hopefully take guns out of the wrong and irresponsible people’s hands before they ruin the right to bear arms for the rest of us. If you own a firearm remember it is a weapon of maximum force to use only for self defense, not a way to force your point across in an argument or solve day to day issues. 

Written by: Erinn Malloy

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