Just how safe is Denver and the DU Neighborhood?

You see it every day in the news. The message? Crime is on the rise in Denver and around Colorado.

According to an article in 5280, “From 2007 to 2017, violent crime (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault) jumped by 46.3 percent.” Denver is reported to be among the top 20 cities for car theft. The NextDoor website reports numerous package thefts, car break-ins, armed robberies and reports ‘suspicious people’ prowling neighborhoods.

What are we to think, especially residents of the University and University Park neighborhoods?

Thru August of this year, the Denver Police Department reports the following totals for University/University Park for the first 8 months of 2018:

Homicides – 1 Rape – 5
Robbery – 12 Aggravated Assault – 12
Burglary – 61 Larceny – 101
Theft from Vehicle – 135 Auto Theft – 48

While the raw numbers are interesting, how are University and University Park neighborhoods doing versus other Denver neighborhoods?

Denver Crime Map
Worst and best neighborhoods for crime. Source – KDVR TV

The Denver Post generates a report that compares crime rates for Denver’s 78 neighborhoods. University Park is bounded by I-25, Yale, University, and Colorado Boulevard. University is bound by I-25, Downing, Yale/Dartmouth and University. Here is how the DU neighborhood ranks among the 78 neighborhoods (78 being the safest, 1 being the most dangerous):

Category Best Worst University University Park
Property Crime Indian Creek DIA 60 64
Residential Burglary Clayton Auraria 75 36
Burglary by-force Clayton Auraria 73 27
Burglary Unforced Sloan Lake DIA 72 77
Auto theft Country Club DIA 72 68
Violent Crime Sloan Lake Civic Ctr 58 37
Domestic Violence Sloan Lake Globeville 26 77
Sexual Assault Sloan Lake Civic Ctr 70 7
Robbery Sloan Lake Sloan Lake Sun Valley 28 41
DUI Sloan Lake Civic Ctr 68 77
Hit & Run Whittier DIA 57 32

Generally, based on crime rate, the University of Denver neighborhood appears to be relatively safe. However, areas of concern for the University neighborhood are domestic violence and robbery. And, the University Park neighborhood scored relatively poorly on sexual assault and burglary.

The College Factual analyzes crime reports across universities and colleges. They warn that “Zero incidents of reported crime may be nice to see, but it does not necessarily mean the school is safer, as it could indicate lax reporting. Higher incidents of reported crime could mean the school is stricter about law enforcement and reporting.” The University of Denver reported 557 safety-related incidents involving students on or near campus or other University of Denver affiliated properties in 2017. Of the 2,795 colleges and universities that reported crime and safety data, 2,642 of them reported fewer incidents than this. Based on a student body of 11,797 that works out to about 47.22 reports per thousand students. In 2017, 2,313 colleges and universities reported fewer incidents per thousand students than did the University of Denver.

DU’s poor relative crime standing is most likely the result of rigorous University and local police reporting and a campus-based in an urban environment. Also, according to College Factual, “nearly 1/3 of the colleges we analyzed either did not report crime or reported no incidents of crime”. Still, these figures, if accurate, do seem concerning on a relative basis.

According to an article by KDVR TV in Denver, “despite the increase (in crime), Denver’s murder numbers are still well below the highs of the 1990s and early 2000s. “Statistically, crime has been going down,” said Metro State University of Denver criminologist Dr. Andrea Borrego. She told FOX31 crime increases for a number of reasons. This includes a change in how crime is reported – which does affect the CBI numbers – to the economy, population growth and population density. “If crime ever goes up … you want to look into what’s going on. Should we have some kind of moral panic going on? No, probably not,” Dr. Borrego said.

Spirling’s Best Places to live ranks the top 100 largest US metro’s for safety and Denver is  #56 on their crime index. So, no better or worse than similar cities of its size.

It is easy to get complacent in Denver and the DU Campus area with beautiful homes, parks, and vistas. But Denver is a big city and its neighborhoods face big city problems. We are not immune from crime.