Looking at crime with Lakewood Police

Police spoke at city council to report accurate information to the community

Posted 10/15/19

There have been a few crimes that have happened in Lakewood recently that made headlines, particularly the stabbings that occurred in Belmar Park. On Aug. 21, Lakewood Police arrested 19-year-old …

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Looking at crime with Lakewood Police

Police spoke at city council to report accurate information to the community

Posted

There have been a few crimes that have happened in Lakewood recently that made headlines, particularly the stabbings that occurred in Belmar Park. On Aug. 21, Lakewood Police arrested 19-year-old Vicente Enrique Orozco in connection to two stabbing incidents that left two men dead on Aug. 15.

“The (stabbings were) pretty shocking for all of us. That was just a random crime,” said Lakewood Police Chief Dan McCasky. “There was no relationship between the suspect we arrested and the two people killed in the park. If I knew how to prevent that I would, but that was just a random crime. That had a lot of people concerned, and it had us concerned, because it was so random.”

So far this year, there have been nine homicides in Lakewood, as opposed to the two that occurred last year. On average, the city has four or five homicides a year, which “isn’t bad” for a city of Lakewood’s size, McCasky said.

Lakewood’s annual crime statistics, like the rate of homicides, were among the issues discussed on Oct. 7 at a Lakewood City Council study session. Lakewood Police was on hand to present information on crime in Lakewood in an effort to report accurate information to Lakewood City Council and the community.

Since April of 2018, Lakewood Police have received an average of 9,000 to 11,000 calls for service per month. Lakewood Police compared trends in crimes like homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, motor vehicle thefts and sex assaults to cities like Denver and Aurora. The city is trending in a similar way as far as criminal activity in comparison to Denver and Aurora, although criminal activity is lower in Lakewood because of population.

“There’s been comments made. We are a large city in a major metropolitan area, and we’re going to experience crime,” said McCasky. “We’re really no different than a lot of other cities.”

Lakewood Police operations

Steve Rickles, division chief for Lakewood Police’s patrol division, spoke to council about proactive operations the patrol division is taking to fight crime. He also touched on daily responsibilities for patrol officers.

Rickles broke down proactive operations into three categories — Colfax motel operations, special team hot spot operations and “operation triple beam.”

Colfax motel operations occur three to four times a year and involve 30 to 40 law enforcement officers. The goal of the operations is to address criminal activities in and around Colfax motels. Earlier this year, Lakewood City Council approved a licensing program to combat crime and disorder at lodging facilities in the city. The hope is that the licensing system will create a better relationship between the city and lodging facilities to improve business practices, provide direct contact with Lakewood Police and to improve safety and security.

Half of the homicides in Lakewood have occurred in a motel since 2015. Rickle noted that it’s too early to tell what kind of impact the licensing program has had on criminal activity.

Special enforcement team hot spot operations involve one sergeant and six agents. The operations occur monthly anywhere in the city where criminal activity is rising. In March, the operation resulted in the arrest of four fugitives.

Operation triple beam includes the special enforcement team and U.S. Marshals. It occurs three to four times a year and is directed toward wanted Lakewood felons, unregistered sex offenders and criminal activity along the Colfax corridor.

The three operations have resulted in the arrest of over 150 wanted subjects with lengthy criminal histories, the recovery of 12 firearms and the seizure of 10 pounds of numerous narcotics.

Each patrol agent is assigned a specific motel, school and park to watch after. They are responsible for doing extra patrols around their areas, Rickle said.

“Our patrol agents, they take ownership in the areas they are assigned in the city. They work closely with our investigations division, state and federal partners, and crime analysts to address criminal activity and growing trends in the city of Lakewood,” said Rickle.

Combating crime in Lakewood

Anita Koester is the division chief for Lakewood Police’s investigation division. Of the nine homicides to occur this year, two were related to domestic violence, five were related to drugs and money, and the remaining were the result of the random acts of violence that occurred in Belmar Park, said Koester.

“The thing that is important for our community to hear is there is not an outstanding public safety issue,” said Koester.

Koester discussed numerous task forces police officers are involved in, including Project Safe Neighborhood. The task force is designed to reduce violent crime, including addressing criminal gangs, and felony possession and use of firearms.

Another task force Koester pointed to was the FBI Rock Mountain Safe Streets Task Force. It is instrumental in responding to bank robberies, active shooters and kidnappers.

Lakewood Police is also involved in the Regional Anti-Violence Enforcement Network, a task force made up of 14 agencies. The agencies share information with each other and uses advanced technology to identify criminal trends and make arrests more quickly across the metro area, the Denver Post reported.

“The reality is we have crime in Lakewood. However, we really are providing the resources to not only respond to the crimes — but we’re also working diligently on impacting the crime before it occurs,” said Koester.

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