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Report: Crime on the rise in Jeffco

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By Deborah Swearingen

Crime is trending up in Jefferson County, according to a quarterly law enforcement report from Sheriff Jeff Shrader.

Violent crimes are up slightly in Jefferson County, but perhaps even more so are property crimes, including motor vehicle thefts and criminal trespass to motor vehicles.

In the third quarter of 2014, for example, there were 48 motor vehicle thefts as compared to 101 in the third quarter of this year. Likewise, there were 128 cases of criminal trespassing to motor vehicles in the third quarter of 2014 with the number climbing annually and hitting 395 in the third quarter of 2018.

However, despite the statistics, Shrader noted the uptick in crime isn’t exclusive to Jeffco.

“These are not unique to Jefferson County,” Shrader said. “ … All of those things are being seen throughout the Denver metro area, and actually, throughout much of the country.”

Furthermore, he suggested the increase in crime is likely affected by a variety of other social factors, including the opioid epidemic. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimates 224,000 Coloradans misuse prescription drugs every year. In Jefferson County, there were 91 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Jeffco Public Health data.

“I suspect that there’s some relation between those things,” Shrader said.

Commissioner Casey Tighe asked if the increased crime could be related to the increased population, but Shrader was hesitant to attribute the two. According to the Sheriff, the Jeffco Jail currently has had 1,100 more bookings than it had at this time last year.

“If that stays on trend, we’re going to be up in terms of jail bookings about 5 percent. Population increase in one year, last year, is about 1.1 percent,” he said. “So it seems that (crime) is going up faster from that barometer.”

Interim report

The Police Executive Research Forum identified the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office as one of five agencies across the country to provide technical assistance to in order to evaluate response to domestic violence and sexual assaults.

The nonprofit police research and policy organization is in the process of examining policies and protocols in order to develop a national best practice protocol regarding domestic violence.