DENVER — Community members are meeting Monday evening to talk about preventing youth violence as summer quickly approaches.
Youth violence is a growing concern.
So far this year, Denver police have arrested 67 people between the ages of 10 and 17 for violent crimes, according to data the Denver Police Department shares with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Some worry about where things could be headed.
“The concern is that folks think that there may be a high incidence of violent incidents during the summer,” said John Bailey, a longtime community leader and political consultant.
Bailey is bringing together a group of public officials and community leaders Monday night to talk about what can be done to address youth violence in both the short- and long-term.
“What I wanted to try to do was to bring some thought partners together to share how they could be helpful,” Bailey said.
To get a better understanding of the problem, Denver7 dug into arrest data police departments share with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Numbers from Denver show the percentage of youth between the ages of 10 and 17 found to be in possession of a gun at the time of their arrest for a violent crime has grown.
According to the data, 7% of youth between the ages of 10 and 17 who were arrested for a violent crime possessed a gun in 2020.
That number grew to 10% last year.
This year, 16% of the youth DPD has arrested for violent crimes were armed with guns, the data shows.
Those numbers don't surprise Denver City Councilman-elect Darrell Watson.
"The predominance of gun and gun violence across all age groups are increasing across the city and county of Denver since COVID,” Watson said. “I’m not shocked by that.”
Watson was invited to Bailey’s meeting.
“I think it's essential for all of us to be a part of this conversation,” Watson said.
Watson and Bailey say there should be more focus on the root causes of youth violence.
“I think that we need to broaden our horizons and our perspective on the root causes,” Bailey said. “Because once we get a handle on root causes, then maybe we can talk about how we can impact — not fix — but how we can impact in a positive manner with some type of action, positive change, and healing in our community.”
Watson said root causes include things like a lack of access to mental health.
“There is a crisis with guns, but for our youth, we need to look at the root cause, and many of the root causes are because of mental health,” said Watson.
Bailey hopes Monday’s conversation will be followed by many more that lead to real solutions.
“What I'm looking for is commitment,” Bailey said. “The real solution orientation will come from continuing to meet over the long haul to talk about how we move a city that is diversionary focused to a city that is developmental focused.”
Bailey’s community meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church Community Life Center.