HANNIBAL | Unlike in some U.S. cities, the crime rate in Hannibal has increased slightly since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
According to a media release issued by the Hannibal Police Department earlier this week, a “slight uptick” in crime has been noted since the coronavirus started making headlines.
HPD Chief Lyndell Davis told The Courier-Post that the increase has thus far been seen primarily in the category of property crimes.
According to published reports, crime in larger cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco has declined significantly when compared to the three previous years. In New York City the number of serious felonies, murders and arrests has declined when compared to 2019.
Davis does not believe the increase in crime that has been seen locally is necessarily the sign of an ongoing trend.
“It should level off as the public learns to better adjust to the world's new reality,” he said.
The local increase in crime has not come as a surprise to Davis.
“We anticipated there could be an increase and upped our presence in certain areas,” he said.
The HPD release said that for approximately the last three weeks several officers have been reassigned to increase the number on patrol to respond to calls for service and provide extra patrol to the community. The release added this shift and manpower will continue until COVID-19 recommendations are lifted.
Procedures at HPD have been adjusted to help protect officers from the coronavirus, particularly those most likely to interact with the public.
“Some calls are handled by phone. In other instances we may not enter a residence, preferring to stay outside. Obviously due to the nature of our job that isn't always possible,” Davis said.
HPD officers have been following CDC guidelines that are specific for law enforcement, according to Davis. In addition, officers have been issued the recommended personal protective equipment for encounters with the public who either have been confirmed to have COVID-19 or are suspected of having the virus.
Despite being issued protective gear and the change in procedures, Davis acknowledges there is only so much that can be done to protect his officers from contracting the coronavirus.
“The officers, in order to do their job, are more at risk to being exposed to COVID-19 than the average citizen. However, we have taken measures to reduce the risk, but there is no certainty as you have heard from other police agencies that some of them won't contract it,” he said.