GPD says DV calls are up, but not crimes
Thursday morning just after midnight, a 26-year-old woman issued a plea for help. Minutes earlier, she’d been struck in the face four-to-five times by her 27-year-old boyfriend who shoved her to the floor and left with the infant. The woman’s story was confirmed, according to Gillette Police Department Lt. Brent Wasson, by the redness and bruising on the left side of her face as well as scratch marks on her neck and chest where he had attacked her.
She ended up in the ER that night; her boyfriend was arrested for domestic battery and reckless endangering and the baby was safely returned.
Earlier that week, a 25-year-old woman also ended up in the hospital with after being beaten up by her 26-year-old boyfriend in violence of a protective order currently in place. Along with multiple head injuries, she also had several bruises on her arms and legs from previous attacks.
Unfortunately, these calls are not uncommon, according to Wasson, both today and in the past, regardless what else might be going on in the world, including COVID-19 and any of the correlating restrictions. Yes, more people are staying home and are undoubtedly under a lot more stress given the current environment, but crime-wise, he’s not seeing a strong correlation between a spike in domestic violence crimes 0r any others.
The calls are up, yes, he said, but that’s because more people are at home to report disturbances. The numbers seem to support the supposition. In the past month, between March 13 to April 14, GPD took 64 calls for suspected domestic violence compared to 46 at the same time last year. Of those calls, the number of reports filed by GPD and arrests are actually statistically even now compared to last year, Wasson said, with 20 reports filed (with 11 arrests) in 2019 versus 19 and 10 arrests this year.
There are a couple variables driving the numbers, Wasson said, which depends on the nature of the call. In many cases, he said, responding officers do not take reports if it’s a verbal altercation. Likewise, many of these calls turn out to be unfounded, resulting in no arrests or charges.
The increased calls for domestic violence this year is most likely due to the fact that so many more people are staying home.
“There are more people around to hear people fighting and to call it in to the police,” he said.
In terms of the overall call volume, however, GPD has actually seen a decrease in call volume now compared to the same time last year. Between March 13 and April 14, GPD received 2,069 this year compared to 2,559 last year.
Some types of crimes, however, have definitely been impacted by the current environment, he said, like drunk driving arrests, for example.
In 2019, GPD arrested 28 people last year for driving under the influence compared to 16 over the past month.
It might just be a coincidence, he noted, but the numbers imply a correlation.
Otherwise, Wasson said, it’s pretty much business as usual except for the added measures of personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by the officers as they go out on calls and into the community. The communication techs are doing an excellent job communicating any increased risks to officers as they go out, Wasson added in terms of the health of the residents and the nature of every call.
And now, on top of conducting their regular matters of business, GPD is also staying busy cheering up quarantined children by participating in drive-by parades.
They even arranged a moment of appreciation for all the medical workers at the hospital last week.
It’s a completely different environment right now for certain, he said, though keeping people home may actually be good for lowering crime rates, even if there’s no real way to tell for certain.