Tragically, the crime problem in Colorado is undeniable. It is a problem borne of bad decision-making, and fixing this problem requires lawmakers and prosecutors to make a course correction.
Most Coloradoans know somebody who has had their car stolen or broken into. Most people do not want to go to Denver anymore or ride RTD. When we go outside, we take more precautions than we used to.
In the last 10 years, Colorado’s crime rate has increased by 28%; the murder rate has more than doubled, and there have been record high Fentanyl overdose deaths. In 2021, 37,000 cars (105/day) were stolen in this state.
Five days before he launched his re-election campaign, Governor Polis released his Public Safety Plan of Action. His proposal would look to enhance crime prevention measures, address police staffing shortages; increase mental health co-responder models, and provide grants for domestic violence and behavioral health programs.
However, like a poor marksman, he keeps missing the target. These endeavors do nothing to immediately impact the crime problem. That is why the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, County Sheriffs of Colorado, and the Fraternal Order of Police would not stand with him when he presented his plan.
Addressing the crime problem is not difficult. It just takes courage to stop making excuses for criminal activity and to prioritize community safety.
Police officers/deputies are dealing with five factors on a daily basis.
- Drugs: While we must have compassion for those who are addicted, we must confront the reality that most crimes, including violent crime and homicides, are connected to drugs.
- Stolen Cars: 85% (31,450 in 2021) are used to commit another crime.
- Property & Violent Crime: After stealing a get-a-way car, it is much easier for criminals to steal, break into a business or conduct a drive by shooting.
- Guns: As gun violence increases, it is baffling that the state legislature is now allowing more convicted criminals to be in possession of guns.
- Criminal Histories: Everyday, officers arrest suspects with extensive criminal histories and many are on bond or parole.
So what is the solution? I would offer the following:
- Front End Resources: Provide resources to those with mental health issues and drug addiction. Helping people get back on their feet is a good thing and if it keeps them out of the criminal justice system, all the better.
- Increase Penalties for MVT and Gun Crimes: Pass legislation that increases the penalties for motor vehicle thieves and criminals with guns. A stolen car is often used to commit other crimes and the crime itself is life altering for victims. Additionally, good people with guns are not the problem. Criminals with guns are and we should sentence accordingly. If we provide significant sentences for these crimes, community safety will greatly improve.
- Stop the Revolving Door: After a suspect is arrested, there should be some assurance that they will not continue to re-victimize the community. No bail or bail that is too low creates a revolving door that allows criminals to continue to commit crime without interruption.
- Re-criminalize Fentanyl: Since 2015, there have been 1,578 fentanyl deaths in Colorado and according to the Centers for Disease Control, fentanyl is the leading cause of death among adults aged 18 to 45. Who thought decriminalizing fentanyl and other drugs was a good idea?
- Fix the Parole System: Parole has been intentionally broken by past Democratic bills. The whole point of parole is to reintegrate proven criminals back into society. When parolees are not held accountable for continued drug use and other violations, what’s the point? They will not reintegrate into society; they will reoffend. Repeal these past bills and reimagine parole to actually address one of the worst recidivism rates in the country.
- Back End Resources: Provide more resources to help those incarcerated with their mental health and drug addiction. Most convicted criminals will return back to society and we should prepare them to be productive and healthy citizens.
One last solution. The Governor is asking for $150 million for electric buses and only $120 million for public safety. Implement the Governor’s Public Safety Plan. Scrap the school buses and use that money to implement my solutions, which will immediately impact the crime problem and make our communities safer.