“The dynamics of street crimes, of street encounters, of human behavior are changing because people are staying home,” said Philip M. Stinson, a former police officer turned criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University.
Crime, say those who study it and those who fight it day to day, requires three things — a perpetrator, a victim and an opportunity.
With tens of millions of Americans off the streets, would-be victims and opportunities for crimes have vanished, causing a drop in the number of perpetrators committing infractions. The dip in crime is compounded by the fact that some police departments have been hampered by quarantines, or have made fewer arrests to limit interactions or to avoid filling the jails.
Arrests in Chicago, where the Cook County jail became one of the nation’s largest-known virus hot spots, were down more than 73 percent during roughly the initial month of the lockdown, said Deputy Chief Thomas Lemmer of the Chicago Police Department.
Crime did not entirely disappear, of course, and some of the worst offenders remained undeterred. Homicides in numerous cities remained flat or even rose.
Not so fast, Chicago’s Memorial Day weekend was the deadliest in five years, with 10 people killed and 39 wounded, said Sally Bown, a spokeswoman for the city’s police department. Temperatures were in the 80s, she noted, and even without a lockdown, warm weather tends to send people outdoors and drive up crime rates. According to The Crime Rport, violence on Memorial Day weekend is not a new phenomenon.
At the beginning of Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of summer — Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown announced opening a Summer Operations Center to centralize police resources in an effort to tamp down on summer gun violence. The most recent fatal shooting was Monday evening in Garfield Park on the West Side. Two men, 45 and 52, were standing on the sidewalk about 8:30 p.m. when someone in a white sedan fired shots. On Sunday afternoon, a person was fatally shot in Rosemoor on the South Side. Sunday morning, a man was killed in Humboldt Park on the Northwest Side. A 45-year-old man was killed several hours before that in Grand Crossing on the South Side. The newspaper detailed a string of other shootings.
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