April 2021 Volume 4, Issue 6
The Sterling police department recently reported crime rate statistics for 2020 which indicate a steep drop in overall crime. The department also made changes in response to the pandemic that have never been made before.
In 2020 Sterling saw a 50% drop in serious crimes and a 67% decrease in less-egregious crimes when compared to 2019.
Sterling police Chief Alex Chavira said, “It was really kind of astonishing to see the drop in numbers.” The year-end report for 2020 had just been presented to the city council.
For most of the year a majority of businesses have been either closed or have had significantly lower accessibility. Chavira explains, “This is a direct reflection of people not leaving their homes. You don’t have as many retail thefts because the stores are closed. You don’t have as many DUIs because most of the bars are closed.”
Steps were taken to make sure that the officers were given mental health support. “To be out there every day when everybody else is shut down, you could see that it took its toll on some officers,” Chavira said.
Chavira also said that traffic enforcement was “almost non-existent unless someone was running into stuff,” as it wasn’t worth putting the officers at risk of getting sick over someone speeding.
“Our agency took a lot of steps to emphasize the personal safety of our officers.” Chavira explained that for the first time in his twenty-five years on the force they suspended training for all of their department.
The police department has also never limited public access for citizens until now and detectives were encouraged to work from home when possible, for the first time ever.
Shift schedules were adjusted to reduce as much risk as possible. Shift times were staggered and the number of officers on each shift were reduced to three from five. Chavira said, “The initial fear was that if one person gets it, you could wipe out an entire shift, or an entire police department with COVID. We had to look at what was in the best interests of the public’s and employees’ safety.”