COVID-19 pandemic keeps law enforcement on their toes

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PLYMOUTH, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — The COVID-19 crisis has had an impact on how law enforcement responds to crimes but local law enforcement officials say they’ve actually seen a decrease in the amount of reports they receive across the board.

“When COVID kicked in our call volume went probably to zero,” Dallas Township Police Chief Douglas Higgins told Eyewitness News.

Higgins’ officers patrol parts of the Back Mountain of Luzerne County and while he did not know what to expect as COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were placed into effect, he says all types of crimes went down from early March to the end of May. Now that safety restrictions are being eased, that is once again changing and placing officials into an area of uncertainty.

“In the last three weeks our call volume has increased drastically. I don’t know if it’s because staying home so long people want to get out and do whatever they do. Our volume is up drastically,” Higgins said.

Anthony Gorey, Police Chief of the Plymouth Borough Police Department saw a similar pattern in the calls his officers have had to respond to.

“What we expected was the property crimes and that didn’t happen. And another thing during the stay-at-home order we weren’t seeing the loitering calls, public drunkenness, because people weren’t out on the street,” Gorey said.

Acting Hazleton City Police Chief Brian Schoonmaker says calls to his department did see a drop in over all calls from the same time period last year.

“We actually had expected to see probably a spike in domestic violence or mental health type situations. In all honesty our call volume and the types of calls stayed pretty much the same, the usual noise complaints, burglar alarms, different things like that. Nothing exponentially violent crimes third along those lines we had anticipated,” Shoonmaker said.

Other police departments say overall their call volume was down as well but they, like Hazleton are starting to see an uptick in the numbers of calls.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police tells Eyewitness News they have responded to about the same number of calls in that time period. Property crimes like break-ins and burglaries have decreased because they believe of stay-at-home orders.

You can view state police patrolling statistics before and after the coronavirus pandemic by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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