Shifts in Crime During COVID-19

Shifts in Crime During COVID-19

Shifts in Crime During COVID-19 — The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC — https://markshermanlaw.com/


Crime, like any other social component, can fluctuate with changes in daily life. Commonly intertwined with financial status and cultural shifts, crime can also be influenced by seasonal changes, holiday periods, and larger environmental factors such as natural disasters or global events. One of the most pressing changes that are affecting rates of crime within the U.S. comes unsurprisingly from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extent of how the coronavirus pandemic has influenced crime is yet to be determined, but there are many studies and reports noting changes between crime in 2020 and previous years. Many of these reports note that there has been an overall decline in crime since the beginning of the pandemic. However, large news organizations like NPR and Vox have reported that specific criminal elements like murder, instances of domestic violence, and shootings appear to be on the rise.

Understanding that crime is complex and context-specific is important. It is equally important to understand where and how a crime occurred, as it is to understand the environment and situation that influenced it. In the context of the global pandemic, there has been significant changes to people’s life and financial situation, so the kinds of crime, and how frequently they occur, are shifting as well.

Now, as law enforcement agencies begin to acclimate to a world dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, crime and its punishment are being revised to reflect these changes.

Reasons Why Crime Has Changed During Coronavirus

As many states are beginning to reissue stay-at-home orders with a recent surge in coronavirus cases, people may find themselves reminded of the earliest months of the coronavirus pandemic. People were spending much of their time inside their homes, whether working or in leisure, and social gatherings came to a screeching halt. Crime, as it turns out, also saw a drastic shift that aligned with these changes in daily life.

Crimes involving property (such as homes or cars), drug-related crimes, and police stops decreased—likely due to fewer opportunities, as well as people’s fear of infection. While this shift may have initially been seen as a benefit to the pandemic, law enforcement quickly noticed that crime had moved from commonly-reported public issues and into private instances of domestic violence, and other violent crimes like shootings and homicides.

One thing that many researchers of this trend note are that more public crimes—like drug deals, car thefts, and police stops—are measured by reports like 911 calls and police arrests. Due to many policies requesting that law enforcement limit their interactions with the public, the rates of some crimes may have simply decreased due to lack of exposure. Conversely, the rates of increased domestic violence and escalations in violent crimes during this time may be due to more time spent at home, job instabilities, and economic fears that exacerbate negative situations.

Trying to Anticipate Changes Moving Forward

Many organizations, including law enforcement, utilize public data and trends to better organize themselves and their policing efforts to not only protect the safety of their communities but to protect themselves as well. In times of COVID-19, this commitment to safety has become more nuanced as the information is less available and law enforcement are still trying to understand how emerging trends will influence the process of crime and punishment during the pandemic.

Even if an overall crime may be on a decrease within the U.S., some organizations are preparing for the new reality, where the economic and health effects of COVID-19 continue to impact criminal justice. With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise across the country again, states are beginning to look at another lockdown, which could exacerbate the already tense situations many individuals and families find themselves in. The ongoing trend in crime could persist: minor crimes could decrease, while more serious and violent crimes could increase within domestic environments.

Moving Forward in a New Era

Even in late 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence many aspects of life. Law enforcement officials, like many other essential employees, are dealing with nuanced situations that would never occur pre-pandemic. However, one thing remains certain: there is no one single solution to these difficulties, whether in regard to the pandemic or its effects on crime.

There are many factors influencing crime and law enforcement’s ability to deal with it in 2020. As states and major organizations look to mitigate some of the negative consequences of the pandemic, there may indeed be a shift in how crime and punishment are dealt with. To make these types of decisions, it seems that further data needs to be gathered connecting the COVID-19 and fluctuating crime statistics.

Shifts in Crime During COVID-19 — The Law Offices of Mark Sherman, LLC — https://markshermanlaw.com/

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