From 2020 to 2021, Denver property crimes increased nearly 27% and violent crime climbed 6%, according to The Denver Post. Denver Police Department Protection Association Vice President Tyson Worrell blamed political leaders’ anti-police rhetoric and legislation and the district attorney’s prosecution policies.
“There is a more aggressive behavior towards officers,” Worrell told Fox News. “Lawmakers have taken a different approach on law enforcement, which has empowered people acting outside the law to engage officers in a different manner.”
“We’ve had several police officers that have been shot at, ran over by cars,” he added, noting that the “public perception” of police is also inhibiting his department.
Several Denver locals told Fox News the city needed more “police presence.” But the department faced significant retirement after the 2020 demonstrations and the defund the police movement and has since struggled with retention and recruitment, according to Worrell.
“We’re not getting people applying for the job like we used to,” Worrell said. Officers’ “morale level is very low.”
The union official called on the Biden administration to take action.
“We need leaders to stand out and say ‘Hold on … we need these folks to go out and protect us because they play a vital role in keeping things safe,'” Worrell said. “Leadership has to play a role in that.”
Additionally, courts and the district attorneys have also contributed to the crime spike, according to Worrell.
“The DAs have to start more aggressively prosecuting people,” the police union official said. Criminal “behavior goes unaccounted for” when offenders aren’t prosecuted, which empowers them to commit bigger and bigger crimes.
Cash bonds have also been “a big problem,” Worrell said.
“We go out and arrest somebody, put them in jail, and there is no bond,” he told Fox News. “They walk in the front door of the jail and they go out the back door, and they’re out with the promise they’re going to come back to court.”
“It’s not working very well,” Worrell continued.
“We’re seeing multiple repeat offenders,” including “people on parole and probation that are committing murders” or “people that should be awaiting trial for a violent crime out on the streets continuing to do the same thing.”
Worrell said those are the most extreme examples, but most people are affected by property crime.
The opioid epidemic, COVID-19 and Colorado’s lenient drug laws have also factored into the increase in crime, the union official told Fox News.
Ultimately, Worrell felt “the criminal justice system, all parts, have to work in concert in order to start addressing this crime.”