Crime Appears Down in Corona Era; Jury Still out on Culver City
May 28, 2020
By Leonard “Guzz” Brophy
It is difficult to analyze an unfinished story, but it appears Covid-19 has at least one benefit worldwide: safer neighborhoods with less crime. Social distancing may be a felony and misdemeanor deterrent. Whether that is specifically true in Culver City is yet to be determined.
According to the Police Department’s Monthly Crime Map report, which tracks preliminary reports of activity in the city, the month of April (the first month with the city under full lock down) included eight robberies, six assaults with deadly weapons, one arson, 14 residential/commercial burglaries, 29 thefts from vehicles, five stolen vehicles, and three bicycle thefts.
“There are still consistent thefts from vehicles that appear to be occurring overnight,” the report says. “Other jurisdictions in the area are seeing the same statistics. Please remove all items of value and lock your vehicles at night. Patrol has made arrests linked to these crimes as well as commercial burglaries.”
Most of the April numbers are on par with those from February, the last full month without social distancing. February included 11 robberies, six assaults with deadly weapons, eight residential/commercial burglaries, 32 thefts from vehicles, 12 stolen vehicles, and seven bicycle thefts.
We will get a better idea of how Covid-19 is affecting crime locally later this month when the department releases its more in-depth Monthly Recap for April. The March Monthly Recap, which covers a month of partial lock down, includes mixed messages. While aggravated assaults went up from three in March 2019 to 11 in March 2020, burglaries were down from 43 in March 2019 to 31 in March 2020. Thefts also went down in March 2020 from 118 to 95.
Meanwhile, a common happening throughout the nation and possibly the world is a reduction in vehicle collisions because there are so few people on the roads these days. Good news for emergency rooms that could use fewer patients. In Culver City, injuries were down from 29 last March to five in March 2020.
Interestingly, there was little change in DUI arrests; down from seven last year to five this year. Related, parking citations (a good source of revenue for the City) were down significantly from 3,269 in March 2019 to 2,023 in March 2020.
On a national level, crime is down in the Covid-19 era, according to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The independent research organization that focuses on critical issues in policing contacted 30 police agencies in the country, including many of the largest cities in the country as well as several mid-sized and smaller jurisdictions. It asked the jurisdictions to compare crime rates between March 16 - April 12 of last year to the same date range this year.
“The 28-day time period...generally coincided with the issuance of federal guidelines designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, and the imposition of many state-level stay-at-home orders and other restrictions,” said PERF in an explanation of why it chose that date range.
Its findings show Los Angeles had 14 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 people this year than there were last year. Only San Francisco and Syracuse, New York had a larger reduction in violent crime among the 30 cities PERF contacted. Eighteen jurisdictions in total had reduced violent crime.
Among the other findings, homicides are a mixed bag, robberies have generally declined, property crime has gone down dramatically, and calls for police service have sunk across the board.
Arrests for serious crimes (homicide, rape, robbery aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson) are down in 18 of the 22 jurisdictions that reported this information to PERF. This includes a 66 percent decrease in Boston, 61 percent drop in Miami, and 45 percent reduction in San Francisco.
There was an even more dramatic reduction in arrests for less serious crimes. All 21 of the jurisdictions that reported these results to PERF had substantial reductions ranging from 29 percent in Atlanta to 73 percent in Chicago.