Some students are shocked at the amount of crime, especially violence against people that has become a common plague in Fort Collins.
“I’d expect this in Denver, but seriously, Fort Collins?” said junior economics major Nate Quintanar. “Girls getting raped and murdered…this is a small town, it shouldn’t be happening like this.”
Crimes against persons have especially been made public recently with the murder of Lacy Miller, a University of Northern Colorado student who lived in Fort Collins, and Troy Graves, the rapist who attacked several women in Fort Collins two summers ago. In 2002, there were 712 such incidents, a considerable increase from 465 in 2000.
“Fights happen, but when it’s pre-meditated it’s just disturbing,” Quintanar said. “I was unfortunate enough to witness something terrible (in the form of extreme violence) earlier this school year, and it just doesn’t seem to fit in Fort Collins.”
Violent crimes are not the only cases on the rise. DUI’s, drug offenses, fraud/property crimes and traffic/other violations have all increased the last few years. Misdemeanors were at their second highest amount last year at 6,463 incidents, only comparable to 6,566 in 1996.
“Drugs play an important role in any crime, from car theft to abuse,” said Lt. Jack Taylor, the commander of the Larimer County Drug Task Force. “People will steal things to pay for their addiction.”
The rise of crime is also be correlated to the amount of influence certain drugs have on the community. Ecstacy, cocaine and especially methamphetamines have apparently become more involved in these crimes since the mid-to-late 1990s, said Rita Davis, the spokesperson for the Fort Collins Police Service.
“Meth is the larger issue at this point because it is easy to produce, it’s low cost, relatively accessible and highly dangerous,” Davis said.
Davis also noted the correlation between population and crime rates.
“Population is a big factor, when numbers begin to exceed 100,000, people tend to lose their sense of community…they become less personal,” Davis said. “Even people in the suburbs don’t know their neighbors as they may have 10 years ago.”