Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / July 27, 2022
(Lone Tree, Colo.) Lone Tree Police report a rise in violent and property crimes, including assault and theft, from 2020 to 2021, which mirrors higher crime stats in Colorado and nationwide, Lone Tree Police Chief Kirk Wilson said.
Wilson emphasized the force’s size, noting that the shift in crime from 2020 to 2021 required scheduling and planning to ensure the police department safely covered all shifts. In the agency’s 18-year history, the department has grown from its original 22 sworn officers to a force of 53, with an additional 22 civilian employees.
The department wants more money from city council to add new positions.. Chief Wilson said the types of criminals and crimes his officers face have grown more violent since the pandemic. The agency patrols several shopping areas, which have become targets for shoplifters and burglars.
Wilson said many shoplifting reports have turned into assaults after those suspected of committing a theft draw a weapon or attack an officer. Lone Tree is small enough officers can usually respond to shoplifting reports in real time, and due to increased aggression from suspects, more officers are needed for some calls.
“Our number one goal is community safety, so when we approach these situations, we are trying to do it as safely as possible and not endanger the public,” Wilson said.
“The perception might be ‘why do you have so many officers here for a minor thing?’ The reason we have more officers is how aggressive suspects have become and how many assaults, eludings and obstructions we have had toward our officers.”
Wilson also shared that the department’s arrest rates have increased by about 30% from last year and the department is on pace to arrest 3,000 people in 2021. In 2017, the department arrested 1,679 people.
According to the agency’s annual report, violent crimes rose in 2021. The police reported 133 assaults in 2021, up from 104 in 2020 and 200 in 2019 — still a relatively low number for a Denver metro suburb, Wilson noted.
Sexual assaults also rose by one from 20 reports in 2020 to 21 reports last year in Lone Tree.
Aggravated assaults accounted for the majority of violent crime, with 46 reported, according to Colorado Crime Statistics. This crime type has been rising steadily over the past five years, as 16 aggravated assaults were reported in 2017.
Sexual offenses were second most common violent crime reported by Lone Tree officers, with 16 reported. Rounding out the total violent crime reports, 10 robberies were reported. This is the same as was reported in 2020 and 2019, and down from 12 in 2018.
No murders were reported in Lone Tree during 2021. The last homicide case was in 2019.
Non-consensual sexual offenses hit a five year high, according to the annual report, with 16 crimes reported in 2021. Seven were reported in 2020. The lull could have been an effect of the pandemic.