Sioux City crime rate, calls for service decreasing during pandemic

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – With the efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, calls for law enforcement service and crimes have de have dropped in Sioux City, according to the Sioux City Police Department (SCPD).

SCPD’s Crime Analysis and Community Policing sections have been tracking calls for service, officer’s self-initiated activity, and certain crime reports in two-week intervals from March 1 to April 15.

Sgt. Jeremy McClure with the SCPD said that they normally don’t track crime trends in small time frames. This is due to them not being statistically relevant compared to longer periods of time. Due the COVID-19 pandemic and with people asked to stay home as often as possible, it is currently an interesting point in time to compare.

According to the SCPD, they started collecting data by looking at the calls for service. This includes:

  • Officers dispatched to areas.
  • Officers self-initiated activity.
  • Traffic stops.

During the quarantine so far, they have experienced a decrease in the areas listed above.

Officers were dispatched to 230 fewer calls at the beginning of April compared to the beginning of March. They would like to add that officers have continued to stay proactive in addressing issues on their own. There were 829 self-initiated calls made by officers at the beginning of April. This is down by 128 compared to the beginning of March.

Courtesy of Sioux City Police Department

With less drivers on the roads, there has been a dramatic decrease in traffic stops, according to the SCPD.

At the beginning of March, officers stopped 986 vehicles. That number has steadily dropped. By April 1, officers only stopped 496 vehicles.

The quarantine has also had an impact on drunk driving or OWI (operating while intoxicated). In February, officers investigated 52 OWI’s. In March, officers investigated a total of 25 OWI reports. Halfway through the month, April’s numbers remain under ten with eight OWI’s, according to the SCPD.

The police department also tracked the number of crimes. Initially, McClure said they were worried that domestic violence numbers and other crimes would rise. In February, officers investigated 25 incidents of domestic violence and 28 incidents in March. They reported that domestic assault reports dipped after the start but have come back up slightly, noting that it appears to not be trending higher than normal.

Assaults have also decreased slightly. According to the data, there were 51 assault reports in February. Both halves of March showed similar numbers with the month having a total of 47 reports. The first half of April has shown a downward trend in reports with only 13 taken, according to the SCPD.

The SCPD reported an increase of disturbances, noting there were 92 in the first half of March and then 131 at the second half of the month. Overall, March had 223 reported disturbances compared to February’s 158. In April so far, there have been 82 reports.

Courtesy of Sioux City Police Department

The SCPD also looked at property crimes, such as burglary and shoplifting. They stated in a recent document that at the start of the quarantine, business burglaries jumped, but the totals for March came in at six, which is less than the business burglaries reported in February. So far in April, there has been even fewer burglary reports with a total of two for the first part of April.

McClure said that even though burglaries have dropped, officers continue to aggressively patrol closed businesses to deter burglars.

SCPD suspected that they would see a decreasing trend in residential burglaries with more people at home. According to the SCPD, there were 23 residential burglary reports in February. March came in with a total of 20 residential burglary reports, and the start of April only has five.

The last area they looked into was shoplifting numbers, noting that it has steadily decreased from 52 reports in February to 30 in March. The start of April has only had nine reports.

McClure said that with a lighter call load, officers patrolling the streets have been able to respond to non-emergency calls for service faster, sometimes four to 10 minutes faster.

As the pandemic continues, McClure said the SCPD will continue to analyze the trends and collect data so that they can provide the best service and meet the needs of the community.

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