From the first coronavirus fines that restricted everyday activity to complete lockdowns imposed to curb the spread, the changes to community safety will have a lasting effect for years to come.
The COVID pandemic and the ensuing lockdown have impacted crime drastically. The resulting impositions and changes in law led to social behavior changes that will affect crime for years to come.
Overall Decrease In Crime
Contrary to the Houston Police Chief’s statement, crime has seen a downwards trend since the start of the pandemic. This is in line with the overall trend of decreasing crime rates since the 1990s. In addition, the period after the initial lockdown saw a drastic decrease in specific crimes like robbery and car theft, mainly due to the reduced number of people outside.
However, specific crimes saw a surge, falling in line with social behavior due to the lockdown and reduce social mobility.
Increased Drug Crime
Since people have been laid off and facing free time, drug usage has seen a spike. This indicates the toll social distancing and lockdowns have on the general public, as people turn to narcotics to deal with the stress. The increase in drug crime can also be attributed to police tracking drug dealers more quickly as they struggle to move during the lockdown.
Increase In Domestic Abuse Cases
Domestic abuses complaints have also seen a drastic increase during the pandemic and the lockdowns, as more victims are trapped at home with abusers. Although lockdowns might not necessarily be the sole reason for the higher domestic abuse cases, being locked in a confined space can aggravate violent tendencies amongst abusive partners.
Lastly, these offenses are strictly intrinsic to the pandemic and the ensuing restrictions on movement. The penalties for breaking lockdown restrictions are offenses that police officers do not have to deal with in ordinary circumstances.
As lockdowns intensify with time, the police have seen a more significant number of fines being handed out, as people get restless and start flouting rules. Following this, municipalities starting putting more pressure on police officers to enforce lockdown restrictions, fearing the spread of the virus.
Some rules are more difficult to enforce than others, and there has been an irregularity in the number of fines handed out to people, as police do not always have the time to chase reports of people who might have potentially disregarded the mobility restrictions or broken quarantine. In addition, due to the nature of these restrictions, police officers have found it hard to enforce rules, as they aren’t clear enough.
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