Arrests Drop 13% In Denver, Even As Felony Arrests Climb

Esteban L. Hernandez/Denverite
Denver Police block off the streets around the 900 block of South Perry, Nov. 19, 2019.

Denver Police made 6,000 fewer arrests overall in 2019, yet officers made more felony arrests during that time — a product of Police Chief Paul Pazen’s prioritization on bringing down violent crime and drug dealers.

“We have arrested far fewer people this year than in previous years ... we’re targeting the right individuals,” Pazen said. “We want to get these large quantities of meth off the street, we want to get these illegal weapons off the street.”

Pazen also said they’ve focused more on diverting drug possession crimes out of the criminal justice system.

“Putting someone in jail for a few hours or a few days does not cure them of their substance abuse challenge,” he said. “We divert a lot of folks to get them the help they need, we want the people who are dealing with public health challenges to get access to public health.”

In another recently released report, Denver Police Officers' use of force to make arrests was found to be down in 2018 from the previous years, from a rate of 19 per 1,000 arrests in 2015 to 17.4 in 2018. Uses of force include takedown tactics, including strikes with hand or foot, pepper spray, TASERs, police dogs and guns. 

Denver Police revised its use of force policies in 2018 that included eight hours of training for the 1,500 some Denver officers. That training includes methods of de-escalation and adjusted standards on when an officer can use force in attempting to make an arrest.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the terminology for police use of force and to correct the use of force rate by Denver Police.