Police: Crime, arrests in Aspen way down thanks to pandemic | AspenTimes.com

Police: Crime, arrests in Aspen way down thanks to pandemic

While it is difficult to find anything good about the COVID pandemic, one positive side effect can be found in the area of crime and policing.

From drunken-driving arrests to violent crime to property crime, all are significantly down in Aspen this year as compared with the same period last year, Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said Monday.

“Because of COVID, people’s behavior has changed,” he said. “People are staying indoors.”

The Aspen Police Department’s total calls for service between January and September this year are down 19%, from 17,420 during the same period last year to 14,170, he said. The total number of arrests, however, is down by 43%, from 282 in 2019 to 151 in 2020.

The breakdown of those numbers unearths interesting trends in life under pandemic rules.

Violent crime in the city — including assaults, domestic violence and harassment — was down 26% during that period from 221 incidents in 2019 to 166 so far this year. The number of domestic violence reports, in particular, dropped by more than 50% this year, from 30 between January and September last year to 13 this year, Linn said.

Drunken driving is down too, with the department’s DUI arrests dropping from 39 in 2019 to 27 this year.

“A lot comes down to the fact that bars and restaurants close so early,” Linn said. “When your mother said nothing good happens after midnight, she was right.”

Property crime in Aspen is down 44%, from 429 reports in 2019 to 243 this year. Even the bears cooperated this season, with the number of bear calls handled by the police department dropping from 700 last year to just 142 this year.

Even with a seemingly large number of visitors in town this summer and fall, the department is logging significantly less calls for service, he said.

The fewer number of calls and arrests, however, does not mean Aspen police officers have been bored, Linn said.

“Our officers manage to fill the time up,” he said.

One area of law enforcement that has seen an explosion of calls so far this year — as opposed to zero such calls last year — is around the issue of face masks.

“We’ve had many thousands of contacts about mask wearing,” Linn said.