MIKE COFFMAN: Aurora crime affects everyone and must be a priority

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Last summer, I had the opportunity to go on a patrol with Aurora police officers in the Northwest part of our city, where Aurora experiences its highest violent crime rates.

The patrol was during daylight hours last summer, along the Colfax corridor, from the east side of Yosemite Street, which borders Denver, to the west side of Peoria Street, in Aurora.

I was surprised by the operational tempo of the police officers, along with the serious criminal activities that dominated their shifts.  No doubt, nights along this section of Colfax are much tougher.

According to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Aurora’s violent crime rate has steadily risen, year after year, since 2014. The violent crime rate alone jumped from 413 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2014 to 728 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2018.

This amounts to a staggering 76% increase in violent crime from 2014 to 2018.

The violent crime rate in Aurora is concentrated in the oldest and poorest part of the city in the Northwest neighborhoods along the Colfax corridor west of Peoria.

Since the areas with the highest rates of violent crime are physically far removed from the residents of Aurora’s newest developments in the Southeast part of the city, far too many residents are unaware of the magnitude of Aurora’s violent crime problem.

Traffic congestion, due to the rapid growth in Southeast Aurora and a transportation system that has not kept up with the impact of growth, is their number one concern.

One just needs to go to the intersection of Gun Club Road and Quincy Avenue to see their frustrations boiling over as they idle in bumper-to-bumper traffic on single lane roads that were designed to meet the needs of a once rural community and have yet to be widened to accommodate the increased demand.

No doubt, their transportation needs must be addressed and road expansions expedited before new developments are permitted that would further exacerbate the traffic congestion problems in their area.

However, everyone in the city must also understand that the rise in violent crime impacts them, whether they live in a high crime area of Aurora or not, because the problem of violent crime is spreading south and impacting more and more of our city’s residents.

Rising crime rates further cement an outside image of a large suburban city besieged by violent crime – a perception that hurts every homeowners’ property values and Aurora’s ability to grow its economy.

The image of a large suburb with a rising violent crime rate must be kept in perspective: Aurora, now the 54th largest city in America, when compared with other cities of similar size, is a relatively safe city.  However, the upward trajectory of Aurora’s violent crime rate year-after-year is alarming.

First and foremost, the responsibility of municipal government, or any government for that matter, is to protect its people, and I strongly believe that everyone, regardless of where they live in Aurora, has the right to live without fear of violence.

I’m honored to have been endorsed for Mayor of the City of Aurora by Aurora’s Fraternal Order of Police and by the Arapahoe County Deputy Sheriff’s Fraternal Order of Police, because of their confidence in my leadership and my commitment to law enforcement to bring down the crime rate.

If I’m elected Mayor of the City of Aurora, I will make sure that our police department has the necessary resources, the right tools, and the support necessary to reduce violent crime in Aurora.

— Mike Coffman is a candidate for mayor of the City of Aurora