ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Steven Byers, Ph.D. is the Senior Economist with Common Sense Institute. Steven’s experience as an economist spans twenty-three years, including work at federal regulatory agencies (SEC, CFTC, PCAOB) and quantitative economic analysis supporting international trade litigation cases brought before the U.S. International Trade Commission.
2023 Owens – Early Criminal Justice Fellows
George Brauchler served as the elected District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, Colorado’s most populous district, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties, from 2013-2021. As a state prosecutor, he handled the felony cases from the Columbine High School mass shooting case, the Aurora Theater (Batman) mass shooting case, and more recently, the STEM Academy school mass shooting case.
Mitch Morrissey served as the elected District Attorney for the 2nd Judicial District covering Denver, Colorado from 2005-2017. Mitch is internationally recognized for his expertise in DNA technology and applying that technology to solve crimes. He has trained law enforcement officers and prosecutors throughout the United States, the Middle East, Central America, and Canada. He currently runs a company that solves Cold Cases with DNA and Investigative Genetic Genealogy
2023 Local Elections
In 2023, Coloradans will have municipal elections in our most populated cities. To inform these debates CSI will produce reports on the most pressing issues facing Colorado cities: crime, housing, and homelessness for Fort Collins, Denver, Grand Junction, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Aurora.
About Common Sense Institute
Common Sense Institute is a non-partisan research organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of Colorado’s and Arizona’s economy. CSI is at the forefront of important discussions concerning the future of free enterprise in Colorado and aims to have an impact on the issues that matter most to Coloradans and Arizonans. CSI’s mission is to examine the fiscal impacts of policies, initiatives, and proposed laws so that Coloradans and Arizonans are educated and informed on issues impacting their lives. CSI employs rigorous research techniques and dynamic modeling to evaluate the potential impact of these measures on the Colorado and Arizona economy and individual opportunity.
Teams & Fellows Statement
CSI is committed to independent, in-depth research that examines the impacts of policies, initiatives, and proposed laws so that Coloradans and Arizonans are educated and informed on issues impacting their lives. CSI’s commitment to institutional independence is rooted in the individual independence of our researchers, economists, and fellows. At the core of CSI’s mission is a belief in the power of the free enterprise system. Our work explores ideas that protect and promote jobs and the economy, and the CSI team and fellows take part in this pursuit with academic freedom. Our team’s work is driven by data-driven research and evidence. The views and opinions of fellows do not reflect institutional views of CSI. CSI operates independently of any political party and does not take positions.
Introduction and Key Findings
Since 2019, crime in Colorado has skyrocketed and has become a major issue for policy makers to focus on across the state. Ahead of local municipal elections, CSI is highlighting important issues, including crime, that voters care about at the local level. This report analyzes the current state of crime in Colorado Springs through the lens of publicly available data on crime levels and rates. Common Sense Institute (CSI) used data from the Colorado Crime Statistics website and from the Colorado Springs Police Department.[i] CSI also used data from the City of Colorado Springs Annual Budget and Resource Allocation Reports to analyze the police department budget and manpower.[ii]
The number of incidents of crime in Colorado Springs, represented by the blue line in Figure 1, has fallen by 9.3% since 2010. At the same time, the population has increased by 17.4%, thus lowering the city’s total crime rate. This is in contrast to the 45% increase in incidents in the state overall, which is represented by the red line in Figure 1.
Figure 1 – Number of Crime Incidents in Colorado Springs and Colorado
- Total crime incidents in Colorado Springs have fallen by 9.3% between 2010 and 2022. At the same time, total crime in Colorado has increased by 45.3%
- The average monthly crime rate in Colorado Springs has decreased by 15.9% since 2010, driven primarily by a 21.1% drop in the property crime rate and a 23.2% decrease in the rate of crimes against society.
- Nationwide, out of 188 cities of 100,000 or more people, Colorado Springs ranks 13th in arson and 16th in rape in 2022.
- Concurrent with the decrease in the crime rate, spending per resident by the Colorado Springs Police Department has increased by 72.9% since 2010.
- Annual spending in 2022 dollars, on all police functions, increased by 27.3% from $125 million in 2010 to $159 million in 2022. This is equivalent to $322 per resident in 2022.
- Black residents are disproportionately victims of crime in Colorado Springs. Although comprising 5% of the population, they total 15% of crime victims.
- In comparison to Denver, Colorado Springs has a:
- 33% lower total crime rate,
- 34% lower rate of crimes against persons,
- 33% lower rate of crimes against property, and
- 35% lower rate of crimes against society.
- For specific categories or crime, Colorado Springs is:
- 21% lower in non-consensual sexual assault,
- 60% lower in robbery,
- 64% lower in theft from motors vehicles,
- 37% lower in aggravated assault,
- 20% lower in murder,
- 22% lower in burglary, and
- 72% lower in auto theft than Denver.
Crime in Colorado Springs
The data in this section come from Colorado Crime Statistics. Figure 2 shows the evolution of the average monthly crime rates in Colorado Springs and Colorado since 2010. The average monthly crime rate in Colorado Springs has fallen by 15.9% from 7.1 per 1,000 residents in 2010 to 6.0 in 2022. As of 2022, Colorado Springs’ crime rate is 7.7% higher than Colorado’s. In 2010, Colorado Springs’ crime rate was 67% higher than Colorado’s. The convergence of crime rates is due to both increased crime throughout the state and decreased crime in Colorado Springs.
Figure 2 – Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents in Colorado Springs and Colorado
Figure 3 – Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents in Colorado Springs by Major Crime Categories
Table 1 shows the average monthly crime rates in 2014, 2018, and 2022, as well as the changes from 2014 to 2018 and from 2018 to 2022 by major crime categories. The total crime rate in Colorado Springs fell by 8.2% from 2014 to 2018 and 0.6% from 2018 to 2022. The rate of crimes against persons increased by 20.8% from 2014 through 2018 before rising by an additional 5.1% from 2018 to 2022. The rate of crimes against property increased by 0.9% from 2018 to 2022 after falling by 16.1% from 2014 to 2018. The rate of crimes against society decreased by 22.8% from 2018 to 2022 after increasing by 33.3% from 2014 to 2018.
Some notable changes in specific crime rates include those of sexual assault, which increased by 28.8% from 2014 to 2018 but fell by 37.1% from 2018 to 2022, robbery, which rose by 27.5% from 2014 to 2018 but declined by 34.5% from 2018 to 2022, aggravated assault, which increased by 29.4% from 2014 to 2018 and increased again by 34.5% from 2018 to 2022, and vehicle theft, which increased by 39.3% from 2014 to 2018 and an additional 5.3% from 2018 to 2022.
|Table 1 – Colorado Springs Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents|
|Crime Rate||Percent Change|
|Average Monthly Crime Rate||2014||2018||2022||2014-2018||2018-2022|
|Total Crime Rate Colorado||4.55||5.09||5.57||11.8%||9.5%|
|Total Crime Rate Colorado Springs||6.57||6.03||6.00||-8.2%||-0.6%|
|Crimes against Persons||0.83||1.00||1.05||20.8%||5.1%|
|Crimes against Property||5.32||4.47||4.51||-16.1%||0.9%|
|Crimes against Society||0.42||0.56||0.44||33.3%||-22.8%|
|Weapon Law Violations||0.11||0.12||0.15||16.5%||18.9%|
|Theft from Motor Vehicles||0.65||0.66||0.63||3.0%||-4.5%|
|Source: Colorado Crime Statistics|
Figure 4 shows the evolution of the average monthly rate of crime against persons in Colorado Springs relative to Colorado. Colorado Springs’ average monthly rate of crime against persons has generally been higher than Colorado’s, though the difference narrowed in 2021 and 2022. Since the pandemic (2020), the rate has fallen.
Figure 4 – Crimes Against Persons: Average Monthly Crime Rates per 1,000 Residents
Figure 5 shows the evolution of the average monthly rate of crime against property relative to Colorado. Colorado Springs’ average monthly rate of crime against property has been consistently higher than Colorado’s but is trending downward while Colorado’s continues upwards.
Figure 5 – Crimes Against Property: Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 in Colorado Springs and Colorado
Figure 6 shows Colorado Springs’ average monthly rate of crime against society relative to Colorado. Crime against society is a catch-all category that includes drug crime, gambling, and prostitution, among others. Colorado Springs’ average monthly rate of crime against society appears to be positively correlated with Colorado’s, though not in all years.
Figure 6 – Crimes Against Society: Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 in Colorado Springs and Colorado
Crime in Colorado Springs Relative to Other Large U.S. Cities
Using the latest report from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR) for the third quarter of 2022, CSI converted the number of crime incidents to crime rates based on the populations of each reporting city. 168 cities reported to the UCR in Q3 2021 and 188 reported in Q3 2022. Table 2 shows Colorado Springs’ rankings across several major crime categories. Areas of largest concern are highlighted. Colorado Springs ranks 13th in arson and 16th in rape in 2022 out of 188 cities with populations of 100,000 or more.
Colorado Springs has much lower crime rates in all categories of crime than Denver (with the exception of arson, in which it ranks 13th and Denver ranks 36th). Colorado Springs is one of six Colorado cities of 100,000 or more people, that did not have a category of crime ranked in the top ten nationally.
|Table 2 – 2021 and 2022 FBI 3rd Quarter Colorado Springs Crime Rates Ranked among Reporting Cities[iii]|
|Year||Violent Crime||Murder||Rape||Robbery||Aggravated Assault||Property Crime||Burglary||Larceny/Theft||Motor Vehicle Theft||Arson|
|Quarterly Uniform Crime Report data for the nation are derived from National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) reports voluntarily submitted to the FBI. The FBI Quarterly Uniform Crime Report data release for Quarter 3, January – September 2022, was made available on November 28, 2022. This report is based on data received from 12,104 of 18,964 law enforcement agencies in the country. The Quarter 3 release presents the number of violent and property crime offenses known to law enforcement for agencies with resident populations of 100,000 or more that also provided data from the previous year.|
Crime Rates in Colorado Springs Relative to Denver
Table 3 is a comparison of average monthly crime rates in major crime categories in Colorado Springs and Denver. Colorado Springs has a 33.5%-lower total crime rate, a 34%-lower rate of crime against persons, a 33.2%-lower rate of crime against property, and a 35.3%-lower rate of crime against society. Colorado Springs also has a 21.4% lower rate of sexual assault, a 60%-lower rate of robbery, a 37.1%-lower rate of aggravated assault, a 22.4%-lower rate of burglary, a 63.5%-lower rate of theft from motor vehicles, and a 72.1%-lower rate of auto theft. Orange highlights indicate which of each pair of rates/changes is worse.
|Table 3 – Colorado Springs Average Monthly Crime Rate per 1,000 Residents Compared to Denver|
|Crime Rate in 2022||Percent Change 2018 – 2022|
|Average Monthly Crime Rate||Colorado Springs||Denver||% Difference
Colorado Springs Relative to Denver
|Total Crime Rate||6.00||9.02||-33.5%||-15.9%||43.5%|
|Crimes against Person||1.05||1.59||-34.0%||23.7%||22.3%|
|Crimes against Property||4.51||6.75||-33.2%||-21.1%||59.5%|
|Crimes against Society||0.44||0.68||-35.3%||-23.2%||-10.0%|
|Non-consensual Sexual Assault||0.11||0.14||-21.4%||-37.1%||-5.2%|
|Weapon Law Violations||0.15||0.29||-48.3%||18.9%||57.4%|
|Theft from Motor Vehicles||0.63||0.96||-63.5%||-4.5%||176%|
|Source: Colorado Crime Stats|
Spending and Manpower in the Colorado Springs Police Department
The crime rate in Colorado Springs has been declining (see Figure 2). The Colorado Springs Police Department has had a significant role in crime reduction, so CSI evaluated its budget and workforce data to determine how spending on police protection per resident and the number of police officers per resident have changed over time. Figure 7 shows the spending by the Colorado Springs Police Department per resident in nominal and 2022 dollars and the total city population. Nominal spending per resident has increased by 47.3% from $218.82 in 2010 to $322.22 in 2022. In 2022 dollars, spending per resident has increased by 8.4% from $297.32 in 2010 to $322.22 in 2022.
Prior to 2022, spending per resident was increasing rapidly before falling in 2020. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, spending was $282.63 in nominal terms and $323.4 in 2000 dollars. Spending declined further in 2021 before rebounding in 2022.
Figure 7 – Spending by the Colorado Springs Police Department per Resident
Figure 8 shows the total personnel and the number of sworn officers in the Colorado Springs Police Department per 1,000 residents from 2010 through 2022. Sworn personnel includes law enforcement officers who have taken an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, their state, and the laws of their agencies’ jurisdictions. Sworn officers also have the responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of life of the communities they serve. Total personnel per 1,000 residents have increased by 3.6% from 2.22 to 2.3. Sworn personnel per 1,000 residents has increased by 5.84% from 1.54 to 1.63. The share of sworn personnel among total personnel has risen by 2.9% from 69% in 2010 to 71% in 2022, indicating that the police department has not shifted funding from law enforcement duties to other non–law enforcement duties.
Figure 8 – Number of Sworn and Total Positions per Resident in the Colorado Springs Police Department
Who Are the Victims of Crime in Colorado Springs?
As shown in Figure 9, Black people in Colorado Springs are victimized by crime at a high rate relative to their share of the population. White people constitute 65% of the population and are victims of 73% of crimes. Black people constitute 5% of the population but are victims of 15% of crimes.
Figure 9 – Crime Victims as a Percent of Population by Race
The information in this report is intended to help voters and elected officials better understand the key areas of concern, so as to better focus policy and resource discussions. In contrast to Colorado, the crime rate in Colorado Springs has declined over the past 12 years. Further exploration of the contributing factors will be important to sustain this trend, and to inform other jurisdictions of policies and practices that have contributed to this decline.
|Table A1 – Crime Rates in the City of Colorado Springs|
|Category of Crime||2014||2018||2022||Change 2014-2018||Change 2018-2022|
|Crimes against Person||0.83||1.00||1.05||20.8%||5.1%|
|Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter||0.00||0.01||0.01||483.3%||14.3%|
|Sexual Assault with an Object||0.00||0.02||0.02||941.7%||-28.0%|
|Human Trafficking, Commercial Sex Acts||0.00||0.01||0.00||200.0%||-77.8%|
|Human Trafficking, Involuntary Servitude||0.00||0.00|
|Crimes against Property||5.32||4.47||4.51||-16.1%||0.9%|
|Burglary/Breaking & Entering||0.52||0.49||0.45||-4.5%||-8.3%|
|Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property||1.47||0.62||0.89||-57.8%||44.5%|
|False Pretenses/Swindle/Confidence Game||0.14||0.11||0.05||-20.7%||-54.5%|
|Credit Card/Automated Teller Machine Fraud||0.02||0.12||0.11||711.1%||-13.0%|
|Theft from Building||0.21||0.21||0.18||1.6%||-16.0%|
|Theft from Coin Operated Machine or Device||0.03||0.02||0.02||-39.5%||-17.4%|
|Theft from Motor Vehicle||0.65||0.66||0.63||3.0%||-4.5%|
|Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts/Accessories||0.14||0.25||0.35||74.6%||40.1%|
|All Other Larceny||0.63||0.44||0.53||-30.3%||20.0%|
|Motor Vehicle Theft||0.33||0.46||0.48||39.3%||5.3%|
|Stolen Property Offenses||0.02||0.04||0.02||110.0%||-47.6%|
|Crimes against Society||0.42||0.56||0.44||33.3%||-22.8%|
|Drug Equipment Violations||0.09||0.14||0.10||56.9%||-31.0%|
|Gambling Equipment Violations|
|Assisting or Promoting Prostitution||0.00||0.00||0.01||50.0%||100.0%|
|Weapon Law Violations||0.11||0.12||0.15||16.5%||18.9%|
[i] Colorado Crime Statistics (state.co.us)