GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Grand Junction Police Department and the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office have both been adjusting to the changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the changes in crime and reporting of crime.
“Domestic violence actually dropped 30%,” said Undersheriff Todd Rowell.
Although the numbers have gone down, according Undersheriff Rowell they’re still happening.
“I don’t think it went away, I think it still exists but when less people are out and about,” said Undersheriff Rowel, “It’s more about other people seeing it and reporting it versus it happening less.”
“The biggest concern that I would have overall would be the challenges we have with potential under reporting of things,” said Chief Doug Shoemaker.
Chief Shoemaker said domestic violence is already and underreported crime.
“I think during COVID, that’s probably exacerbated a little bit even more just because of the nature of everyone being at home together and there’s no feeling of potential escape from a situation,” said Chief Shoemaker.
Meanwhile, other crimes have spiked.
“Auto-theft and theft-from-auto, both increased significantly over the past 2 and a half months,” said Undersheriff Rowell.
The Undersheriff said these crimes are being committed by a small group of people.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily an impact from people being out of work and being desperate, more people being out of school, having access,” said Undersheriff Rowell.
While overall calls are significantly down at the Sheriff’s Office, the Grand Junction Police Department is a different story.
“We are staying very busy, the calls for service are up,” said Chief Shoemaker, “GJPD alone, of all the agencies we dispatch for is taking up about half of those calls.”
For the GJPD, while property crime hasn’t changed much, violent crime has seen a small increase but the Chief can’t directly relate that to COVID.
A decrease in traffic citations was expected due to the statewide shutdown.
“For a while, nobody was going anywhere, everybody was staying home, it was the stay at home order and then the safer at home order,” said Chief Shoemaker.
GJPD is asking the community to continue reporting crime, a sentiment echoed at the Sheriff’s Office.
“I think the important thing is that if you see something, say something, we’re here to respond,” said Undersheriff Rowell.