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The impact the pandemic is having on crime in Columbus

While Columbus police said crime initially went down, violent crime started to spike in May.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic has had deep impacts on almost every aspect of life, from health to education to crime rates.

In March, life as we knew it shut down. 

Kids were sent home from school. Employees worked from home or were laid off. 

It seemed even crime was put on hold as the world learned about the impacts of the virus.

“Obviously this is a pandemic that is horrible and it is impacting a lot of people," said Columbus Police Sergeant James Fuqua. "We don't want this. We want to go back to our normal lives, however, the sheer number of people that are not actively out and are staying home is presenting less of an opportunity."

We compared the total amount of crimes reported in March 2019 and March 2020 from Columbus to Dublin, Whitehall, Grove City and Westerville. Every city reported fewer crimes.

Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said some crimes dropped when the pandemic started.

“Initially, many crimes that had a positive impact by reducing crimes. Other crimes, domestic violence, child abuse, other crimes did go up,” Chief Quinlan said.

While crime initially took a plunge, violent crime started to spike in May.

“It's pretty clear, there's a distinct difference between January through May and then June going forward,” Chief Quinlan said.

Felonious assaults have skyrocketed.

One in every 800 Columbus residents this year will be the victim of a felonious assault.

“It is very alarming to all of us,” Quinlan said.

The number of homicides and those killed by guns started to increase in June.

There are typically six to nine homicides a month in Columbus. There were 24 homicides in the month of October.

“It has increased every month. It hasn't plateaued or recessed,” Chief Quinlan said.

Quinlan argues there has been an increase in violent crime across the country since this summer.

“After June, they aren't as afraid of the police either because they think the police are going to be a little more hands-off. They may be mistaken about that,” Quinlan said.

He says many COVID-19 policies put in place to protect the health of jail populations has impacted the violent crime rate as well.

“As major city chiefs, what we are attributing a portion of that to is the emptying the jail population out, no bonds,” Quinlan said.

Quinlan adds in this time of uncertainty and increased violence, it is especially important for the community to help police solve and prevent these crimes.

Chief Quinlan said robberies and rapes have declined this year in Columbus and across the country.

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