PUEBLO — Crime is on the rise in the city of Pueblo and in Pueblo County. A joint press conference was held today to address what's happening, and how different agencies are working to prevent crime this year.
The District Attorney's Office, the Pueblo Police Department, the Sheriff's Office and Colorado State Patrol were all part of the conversation to address the crime trends in the community.
In 2022, the Pueblo Police Department saw a 13% increase from the previous year in high level crimes, like aggravated assault, car theft, and robbery. Crimes like arson, homicide and sexual assault were down. The police department is working to prevent these numbers from growing more in the new year.
“In 2022, the department took several proactive steps to address the crime and quality of life issues within our city,” said Chief Chris Noeller of the Pueblo Police Department.
In April of last year, the Pueblo Police Department created the DICE team, also known as Directed Enforcement and Community Engagement. In November, two more officers were added to the team, providing service seven days a week.
“This started with two officers who deployed together to focus on low level crime to include shoplifting, loitering, public decency and other crimes affecting the business community and our citizens,” said Chief Noeller.
Chief Noeller also added that the public voted to renew the Public Safety Sales Tax, which he says is beneficial to providing funds for the work that they do and hiring more officers.
The Pueblo Police Department is also working to recruit more officers. In December, they created a full-time recruiting officer position. The police department is down about 30 officers, the Sheriff's Office is down about 50 deputies, and the District Attorney’s Office is down about 10 prosecuting attorney's.
“Proportionally, we're all down about 40% of where we'd like to be. So we are carrying on, and we are still doing everything we can with what we've got,” said Jeff Chostner, Pueblo County District Attorney.
Colorado State Patrol also saw a 26% increase in lives lost in Pueblo County, involving fatal car crashes. Meanwhile, in 2022, more than 1,700 vehicles were stolen in the county.
Chostner also referenced the ongoing legislative session. He said he wants crimes that were downgraded, to return to felony level crimes. That includes harsher penalties for carjacking and fentanyl crimes that are problems in Pueblo.
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