Major crime rates in New York City and Los Angeles are dropping as more people stay indoors during the coronavirus outbreak

A NYPD police car stand guard at Times Square as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in New York, U.S., March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
  • New York City and California’s crime rates have generally decreased during the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent reports.
  • The number of serious felonies and arrests has reportedly gone down as city streets empty out and more people coop up inside.
  • However, killings in Chicago increased by 43% compared to the previous year, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
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New York City and Los Angeles, the nation’s most populated cities, are seeing a reduction in crime as streets become increasingly empty during the coronavirus outbreak, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times.

Serious felonies, murders, and arrests all dropped in NYC during the week of March 16 through March 22 compared to 2019, the Journal reported. LA also reported a 5.8% drop in crime this year compared to the previous year, according to the LA Times.

The decrease in crime within two of the most major cities in the US comes amid the increasing change in people’s behaviour during the coronavirus outbreak as schools cancel classes, companies move to remote operations, and states implement safety measures in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.

“You see crowds disappearing on streets and other areas,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told The Wall Street Journal. “That has translated to a decrease in crime.”

Serious felonies dropped by 16.6% in New York City between March 16 and March 22 from 1,604 felonies in 2019 compared to 1,337 in 2020, the report said. Murder rates saw the biggest drop, with an 85.7% decrease from the prior year for the week of March 16 through March 22. Car thefts, however, increased by 51.5% with 103 thefts this year as opposed to 68 last year.

Arrests also decreased during the week in question by 16% from 835 arrests in 2019 to 701 this year, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Los Angeles arrests also dropped during the first 15 days of March by 14% from 3,406 to 2,944 arrests – dropping the daily average from 300 to 60, the LA Times reported.

The reduction in arrests can partially be attributed to an effort in LA to cite and release more offenders with the exception of violent crimes, the report said.

But not all cities saw the same decrease in crime rates during the coronavirus outbreak. Chicago saw a 43% increase in killings during 2020 as compared to 2019, which some officers attributed to a massive reorganization within Chicago’s Police Department, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Despite the coronavirus outbreak, officers are still called into the line of duty according to the LA Times report.

“Right now there is no indication whatsoever that officers are backing off in any way or not responding to calls or not dealing with people because of this issue,” LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein told the LA Times. “We ask our officers to go into dangerous situations, and often they have to put their safety aside for the greater good of the public’s safety. That’s the challenge of being a police officer.”