Colorado lawyers meet to discuss public safety in Pueblo

PUEBLO — Violent crime is on the rise in Colorado and Pueblo. From 2020 to 2021, violent crime has increased by 118% and in Pueblo by 119%, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The Colorado Attorney General met with the Pueblo Judicial District Attorney and the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado on Friday to discuss why this is happening and what they can do to increase public safety.

“That’s part of why I think there’s been an increase in crime statewide,” said Jeff Chostner, 10th Judicial District Attorney. “But, here in Pueblo…we need more help from our friends in the legislature to make sure we’re doing things that help prosecutions and really result in public safety.”

Colorado U.S. Attorney Cole Finega said at the federal level they can move faster to charge criminals caught with guns. But, for now, that’s not the case in Colorado.

Police lights. (Getty Images)

“Under state law, due to some changes made a few years ago, it has become more difficult to charge criminals who are caught with weapons,” Finegan said.

One of the issues comes down to the need for more DAs to be able to prosecute more effectively in different jurisdictions. But, until then, it was a challenge.

“We’re just trying to be creative in pooling our resources to prosecute armed criminals,” Finegan said.

Law enforcement staffing is also an issue in Pueblo.

“The reality is when you have fewer police officers, fewer sheriff officers, you are in a more difficult position to protect public safety,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said.

Weiser said he introduced a bill in the legislature to allocate five million dollars to support retention and recruitment efforts, as well as to evaluate and work on the law enforcement training program.

“We will be back here to benefit from the expertise of law enforcement, community expertise and that of educational institutions, because one of the ways we build better public safety systems is through to help train the police to be more effective,” Weiser said.

Bail and parole criteria was another issue brought up during the discussion since repeat offenders were released to Pueblo, only to rape again, so the district attorney said he would like to see this reviewed by the legislature next year and have them tighten bail criteria to reduce the risk of repeat offences.