Silver lining: Crime rate drops around the world amid COVID-19 pandemic

In Chicago drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the city shut down

News Desk April 11, 2020
In Chicago drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the city shut down. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

Despite the coronavirus pandemic is affecting almost all parts of the world with even developed countries failing to cope with the unprecedented challenge, the crisis has a silver lining which is a substantial drop in crime rate across the world.

In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the city shut down, compared with the same period last year, Associated Press reported on Saturday.

Part of that decrease, some criminal lawyers say, is that drug dealers have no choice but to wait out the economic slump.

“The feedback I’m getting is that they aren’t able to move, to sell anything anywhere,” Joseph Lopez, a criminal lawyer in Chicago who represents reputed drug dealers, said.

Even among regions that have the highest levels of violence outside a war zone, fewer people are being killed and fewer robberies are taking place.

Still, law enforcement officials worry about a surge of unreported domestic violence, and what happens when restrictions lift — or go on too long.

It’s rare for a city to see a double-digit drop in crime.

Alcohol ban decreases crime rate in South Africa

Across Latin America, crime is down to levels unseen in decades.

“Killings are down, and the gangsters aren’t harassing so much,” Eduardo Perdomo, a 47-year-old construction worker, said while getting off a bus in San Salvador. “I think they’re afraid of catching the virus, and they aren’t going out.’’

El Salvador reported an average of two killings a day last month, down from a peak of 600 a day a few years ago.

Policing has also changed in the face of the pandemic. Officers are increasingly getting sick; the NYPD, the country’s largest department with more than 36,000 officers, has more than 7,000 officers out and more than 2,000 diagnosed with COVID-19.

And US authorities say they’re issuing citations instead of making low-level arrests, policing social distancing and putting detectives into patrol cars — which could, in turn, bring down crime rates.

In South Africa, the imposition of ban on alcohol as part of lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus since March 27 has significantly decreased crime rate, according to the Zimeye, an online publication quoting Minister of Police Gen Bheki Cele.

The article originally appeared in AP

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