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Denver Police Chief Attributes Rise In Violent Crime To Felons Released On Low Or No Bonds

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen has had it. He says his officers are arresting a record number of armed felons, but the Denver County Court and Denver District Attorney's Office are releasing them with low or no bonds.

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DPD Chief Paul Pazen (credit: CBS)

In a desperate attempt to address the issue, he's forming a partnership with federal agents so the cases will be heard in federal court instead, where prosecutors and judges show less leniency toward violent offenders.

Pazen says a DPD officer and federal agent will respond together to active shooting scenes and review cases involving felons who are accused of illegally having a weapon.

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He says officers have recovered 26 percent more firearms this year than they've averaged over the last three years. They've also made 48 percent more arrests of felons who have guns illegally.

Bradley Widick is a posterchild for the problem. He's been arrested 9 times in five years, twice for having a gun as a convicted felon. In federal court, he would face up to ten years in prison. In Denver County Court, he was released without having to post bond in most cases.

Bradley Widick (credit: CBS)

"We need accountability for individuals who should not have weapons in the first place," said Pazen.

He says a third of the people arrested for homicide last year were out on parole at the time and most of them were convicted felons. While felons are, by law, prohibited from having a gun, Pazen says his officers are arresting a record number of armed felons.

They've picked up 415 so far this year compared to 280 on average over the last three years. Homicides he says are also up 50 percent over the three year average.

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"In 27 years as a Denver police officer I've not seen this type of challenge facing right now as well increase in crime," said Pazen.

Public Safety Manager Murphy Robinson says he's tried to get answers, "This something talked to district attorney about judges about," he told City Council.

Robinson says he understands not everyone belongs behind bars, but he says some violent offenders are being released before officers even finish their paperwork.

"Frankly also morale issue when officers risking lives charge people all sudden person PR bond does something worse."

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Pazen says, as police are held accountable, so too should prosecutors, judges, and most of all violent criminals.

"Our officers are working hard to get guns off the street we need other parts of system community help us so don't have tragedies seeing," he said.

The District Attorney's Office says prosecutors are asking for high bonds and they're being denied. But public safety officials say they've reviewed court footage and that's simply not the case. We were unable to reach the judiciary for comment.

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