Since COVID-19 first arrived in the United States more than a year ago, it has devastated our country. To date, more than 470,000 Americans have died from this virus, and an additional 27 million have been sickened by it. The coronavirus pandemic has also wreaked havoc on our economy, with an estimated 22 million jobs lost.
COVID-19 has affected our lives in some positive ways as well. In the Bay Area, the number of car accidents sharply declined between 2019 and 2020 – likely as a result of the various stay-at-home orders issued by the governor. Similarly, the overall crime rate in Marin County dropped by 5% from 2019 to 2020. During this same time period, residents of Marin County made 83% fewer calls to 911 for emergency services.
How Did COVID-19 Affect Crime in Marin County?
While experts made a number of predictions about how shelter-in-place orders would affect certain aspects of life in California, such as causing a drop in emissions, they weren’t sure how COVID-19 would affect the crime rate. While more people were staying at home, there were also higher levels of economic stress. Would this lead to a higher number of property-related crimes?
The Marin County Sheriff’s Department reported a 5% drop in reported crimes from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, there were 3,880 reported crimes in the region, compared to 3,678 in 2020. This relatively small decrease was not due to a sharp drop in any one particular type of crime, but rather relatively small reductions across the board.
However, there were some types of crime that decreased significantly in 2020. This includes:
- Warrant Arrests: 28% decrease
- Suspicious circumstances:: 27% decrease
- Vehicle towing: 25% decrease
- Residential burglary: 22% decrease
- Child abuse: 29% decrease
- Public drunkenness: 52% decrease
- Resisting arrest: 46% decrease
- Runaway: 67% decrease
- Animal abuse: 78% decrease
- Prowler: 67% decrease
- Traffic offenses: 86% decrease
- Shots fired: 50% decrease
- Disturbing the peace: 100% decrease
- Solicitation: 100% decrease
At the same time, certain types of crime increased from 2019 to 2020, including:
- Commercial burglary: 110% increase
- Vehicle tampering: 370% increase
- Battery: 55% increase
- Weapons: 35% increase
- Threats: 24% increase
- Domestic violence restraining orders: 567% increase
- Trespass: 90% increase
- Disturbing the peace: 31% increase
- Stolen vehicle: 25% increase
- Burglary: 100% increase
- Parking violations: 400% increase
- Indecent exposure: 100% increase
- Suspicious vehicle: 100% increase
- Forgery: 100% increase
- Kidnapping: 100% increase
Notably, the biggest jumps in crime rates are for those offenses that are more connected with people being home more often – like physical assault, domestic violence, vehicle tampering, and parking offenses. At the same time, violations that are typically associated with being out and about, like public drunkenness and disturbing the peace, saw a sharp drop.
Notably, crime in Marin County decreased significantly during the initial months of the lockdown order issued by Governor Newsom. In March, the overall crime rate dropped by 17%. By April, there was a 37% decrease. As restrictions began to loosen in the summer of 2020, the lower crime rate remained, but at much smaller levels. By December 2020, crime had increased by 20%.
The Impact of Covid on 911 Calls in Marin County
From 2019 to 2020, there was a decrease in calls for emergency services in Marin County. This drop started shortly after the pandemic began in March 2020. The number of 911 calls from residents of Marin County decreased by over 4,000 during this time frame, from 17053 in 2019 to 13,818 in 2019. Importantly, due to an era in data collected by Marin County, the 911 calls from December 2020 have been omitted.
Across the board, all types of 911 calls decreased in 2020, including calls for:
- Traumatic injury
- Respiratory distress
- Chest pain
- Allergic reaction
While it may seem counterintuitive that certain types of calls decreased during a pandemic, these numbers may be explained by the desire of many residents of Marin County to avoid going to the hospital so that they would not be exposed to COVID-19. Beginning in March 2020, 911 calls dropped by 19%. Throughout the year, the number of 911 remained lower than in 2019:
- April: 26% decrease
- May: 15% decrease
- June: 9% decrease
- July: 11% decrease
- August: 19% decrease
- September: 19% decrease
- October: 16% decrease
- November: 4% decrease
While the dataset is not complete, the numbers that are available make it clear that when the pandemic hit Northern California, people exercised restraint when it came to calling for emergency services. This led to a significant decrease in the total number of 911 calls for 2020.
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Based in San Rafael, the Kuvara Law firm represents clients throughout Marin County and the greater Bay Area. Our team aggressively advocates for the rights of injury victims, helping them achieve the best possible outcome for their case. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a California personal injury attorney, call us today at 415-479-7070 or fill out our online contact form.