Overall crime appears to be on the downturn during the coronavirus pandemic, but drug crimes may be falling at especially high levels. The city of Chicago has more yearly crime than many states in America, but over the past month drug arrests have plummeted by 42%. While Baltimore and D.C. have yet to release any quarantine specific statistics, there is no doubt that drug arrests are down in our area as well. Prohibitions on large gatherings and non-essential activities has made it easier for police to focus on people that may be involved in criminal activity, and as a direct result less people are out on the street looking to buy drugs. While the same demand for drugs likely still exists, the dealers and buyers are having a much harder time connecting to do business.
In addition to drug crimes declining, Chicago’s overall crime rate has dropped about 10 percent since the shutdown of all non-essential activities. Fewer businesses are open, which means limited opportunity for common offenses such as retail theft and trespassing. There are also considerably less people out on the roads, which means DUI and driving on suspended or revoked license cases are down as well. Less people out on the roads also means less traffic stops, and traffic stops are one of the most common ways that police and citizens come in contact with each other. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for evidence of crimes in all traffic stops, and hundreds of drug and firearm cases originate from routine traffic stops. While there has been no indication that domestic violence cases have decreased, and certain cities such as Houston even reported an increase in domestic violence calls, the closure of bars and nightclubs has reduced cases involving disorderly conduct and non-domestic assault. Another factor to consider is there may be less police officers patrolling the streets. In New York City, the NYPD has almost 7,000 officers out on sick leave, and police officers may be reluctant (or ordered) to avoid citizen contact unless absolutely necessary. This is definitely the case in Baltimore, where the State’s Attorney’s Office is declining to prosecute minor misdemeanor charges.
The crime drop has not been limited to the United States, as Peru recently reported an 84% decrease in its crime rate over the last month. South Africa and El Salvador have also reported significant drops in violent crime over the course of the last month. Based on what we have seen across the world it seems like March, April and May will end up being with extremely low arrest numbers in Maryland. The low will undoubtedly be followed by a significant spike once things return to normal, though a return to normal won’t just happen overnight. The Blog will continue to follow all criminal news stories during this unusual time. Law enforcement officers in Maryland have continued to make arrests for violations of the governor’s executive order, which is a misdemeanor offense under the public safety code. As of this week, 34 people have been arrested for this offense, including a Charles County man who held a 60-person bonfire party after being warned to stop hosting parties. A pawn shop owner in Queen Anne’s County was also arrested for continuing to operate his business, and a Carroll County man was arrested for hosting a hotel party with minors present. We will continue to comment on these stories, and will update on any future court closures as news comes out of Annapolis. If you have been arrested for any offense in Maryland contact criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst for a free consultation. Benjamin specializes in drug crimes, domestic assault, juvenile criminal cases, DUI and felony offenses in every Maryland jurisdiction. Contact Benjamin anytime at 410-207-2598.