PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- There have been 20 homicides in Pueblo so far in 2021, more than double last year's total with a little over two more months remaining.
According to statistics in the City of Pueblo's proposed 2022 budget, there have been 16 homicides in 2021 as of August 2021. Since then, there have been four more bringing the total number to 20.
In 2020, there were nine homicides in Pueblo, according to the crime statistics. Overall, the numbers outline a 19% increase in the overall crime index rate year to year from 2020 to 2021.
Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar not only oversees the city itself, but the Pueblo Police Department as well. He appointed current Police Chief Steven Noeller, and he believes there isn't much the police can tangibly do to fix the crime rate increases.
"There is way too many homicides, and unfortunately that is a hard thing for the police to get their hands on. I'm not sure that more police can take care of that kind of situation because they are usually not there when those homicides are taking place," Gradisar said.
Instead, Gradisar believes that the problem lies with the prison systems and the legislature, which allows repeat offenders the oppurtunity to get back on the streets of Pueblo.
"We are not locking the bad guys up. The jails and the prison system, they have made an effort to get those people back out into the community, and unfortunately that kind of conduct has consequences," Gradisar said. "They haven't change their behavior. They are just back out in the community, so you have to take them out of circulation if you want to try and reduce those kind of crimes."
The Mayor pointed to another issue he believes is plaguing his city. Repeat offenders being able to get their hands on firearms.
"They are mostly related to guns and that is an instantaneous kind of decision that people make. They have access to guns, they use them and someone unfortunately gets killed," Gradisar said.
According to data from the FBI, homicides are on the rise nationwide as well. They reported 4,901 more homicides in 2020 compared to 2019. Data for 2021 has not yet been released.