(Sept. 19, 2022) The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) within the Colorado Department of Public Safety has released the latest report analyzing incidents at Colorado schools that resulted in a student’s arrest, summons or ticket during the 2020-2021 school year.
As mandated by Colorado law, the annual report examined more than 1,000 incidents submitted by local law enforcement to DCJ and analyzed them by demographics, offense type, and action taken. The report also cross-referenced records submitted by judicial districts and district attorney’s offices to determine the outcome of as many of the cases as feasible (for this reason, the report is published with a lag in order to allow time for case dispositions).
“Summary of Law Enforcement and District Attorney Reports of Student Contacts” is published online, along with an interactive dashboard that allows users to explore the data by school, law enforcement agency and judicial district. The two tools are intended to be used in tandem rather than independently, as the dashboard provides detailed data visualizations while the report provides analysis and explanation of the data points.
- Law enforcement agencies reported about one-fifth as many contacts with students in the 2020-2021 school year as the 2019-2020 school year.
- Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, most Colorado school classes moved to online learning in March 2020 and stayed remote through the start of the 2020-2021 school year. This resulted in fewer students on school grounds through much of the 2020-2021 academic school year.
- The racial, ethnic, and gender representation among contacts remained similar to the prior school year.
- 65% of contacts were with males and 35% with females.
- 55% of contacts involved white students, 35% involved Hispanic students, 8% involved Black students, and 1% were other or unknown.
- High school-aged students accounted for the highest proportion of contacts (50%), with 14-15 year-olds (38%) more likely than those in the other age categories to be involved in the incidents reported.
- However, the age groups that had the greatest proportion of contacts resulting in arrests were 18-19-year-olds (16%) followed by 10-11-year olds (15%) and then 14-15-year-olds (13%).
- Hispanic (38%) and Black (34%) students contacted were more likely to be 13 or younger than White students (32%). Hispanic students had the highest proportion of contacts in elementary school (12%) and middle school (44%) compared to White and Black students.
- The most frequently reported offenses involved were marijuana-related (16%), assault (15%), and disorderly conduct (10%).
- Hispanic and Black students were more likely to receive a summons (93% and 92% respectively) compared to White students (86%). White students were more likely to be arrested (13%) than the overall rate of 10%.
- The offenses most likely to result in an arrest were burglary (39%), damaging property (27%), trespassing (22%), and weapon offenses (22%), with lower rates of arrest for sexual assault (13%) and assault (8%). Illegal substance offenses had the following rates of arrest: tobacco (10%), marijuana (8%), alcohol (0%).
- Hispanic students, involved in 35% of incidents overall, were charged with half of the disorderly conduct offenses and 44% of burglary offenses. Black students, involved in 8% of incidents overall, were charged in 24% of assault incidents. White students were involved in 55% of incidents overall, and were most likely to be charged with marijuana-related offenses (16%) and assault (13%).
- For cases where the student was arrested, 67% were sentenced to probation/deferred judgment/intensive supervision and 26% were sentenced to the Division of Youth Services (DYS). Black students were more likely to receive a sentence to DYS (29%) compared to White (6%) or Hispanic (5%) youth.
- Diversion programs give juveniles the opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction. Among diversion cases, 3% were Black, 22% were Hispanic and 68% were White (the remaining 8% were “other/unknown”).
The report contains many other data points, and the public can also use the interactive dashboard to explore and compare the data as reported for their community. Find out more at ors.colorado.gov.