Aurora has had 13 homicides this year. The other Colorado city has had 12. Could it be coincidence?

Sudden increases in violent crime, in Colorado or in any other state, is a situation that a number of communities find themselves in today. In Aurora, an entire street closed down by police Tuesday…

Aurora has had 13 homicides this year. The other Colorado city has had 12. Could it be coincidence?

Sudden increases in violent crime, in Colorado or in any other state, is a situation that a number of communities find themselves in today. In Aurora, an entire street closed down by police Tuesday to search for suspects in a shooting, according to media reports.

The surge in violent crime — in Aurora, where 13 homicides have been recorded so far this year, and beyond — is unique not only in number, but also in its spatial proximity to the most populous city in the state, Denver. The decline in crime in Aurora, and the uptick in violent crime in Denver, are a circumstance neither police nor prosecutors can control. They’re not anomalies.

Part of the issue, according to a Thursday story in The Denver Post, is the difficulty in determining causes. The paper reports that the Denver police department traced 14 of this year’s violent crime spikes to cross-town crimes — “jack-knifed tractor-trailers, angry patients and shoplifting incidents at several Denver stores.” Of the 12 others, the paper also tells us that a falling unemployment rate and a stagnant housing market may have contributed to the uptick.

Between 2012 and 2017, Colorado’s overall violent crime rate (which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) dropped by 23 percent. Over that same span, violent crime in Denver grew by nearly a third. In Aurora, both violent crime and overall crime rose.

It is impossible to attribute all the increases in violence — and, by extension, all the drop in crime — to Denver or Aurora. Some of it may be the impact of our housing market and other facets of our economy, some of it the simple randomness of crime, and some of it, perhaps, nothing.

It is also true that Colorado is now at or near the top of the list for per capita violent crime. As of 2012, it had the seventh-highest rate in the nation. In 2017, it was in fourth place.

That last fact has become so controversial that there has been a push to make the state the latest in a string of recent and concurrent increases in violent crime, and thus to add to a growing backlog of murder cases. We urge readers to focus on what the public can control: the judicial system.

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