EPD: Crime rates expected to increase with reopening


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — States around the country are loosening restrictions on social gatherings leading to large parties in places like Lake of the Ozarks. In Daytona, Florida, six people were injured after thousands gathered at a social event called “Orlando invades Daytona,” despite recommendations from health officials around the nation to not hold crowded social events.

In the Tri-State, another large gathering lead to the fatal shooting of Larry Merriweather Jr.

“Whenever our officers arrive we definitely still want to use education as a first resort instead of enforcement. It’s always important to remember these are guidelines and recommendations, they’re not Indiana State Statutes for our officers to enforce,” said Officer Phil Smith with the Evansville Police Department.

Compared to last year, data from EPD shows domestic violence reports decreased during the stay-at-home order and started to rise again once things began reopening in May.

“A lot of families were spending time together so one would think there would be more of those crimes when there were actually less. We do expect to see an uptick, unfortunately in other crimes, now that people are out and about. They’ve been cooped up, so now unfortunately we’ll get some of those people that do commit crimes to come out that have been away for a little bit,” said Officer Smith.

One reason law enforcement says the Tri-State is seeing an increase in crime is because bars, like those on Franklin Street, were only recently allowed to reopen in Indiana as a part of Phase 3.

“As bars start to open you’ll start to see things that are associated with that that we’ll have to respond to, so it’s about society getting back to normal. People have been cooped up for the last two or three months so it is to be expected that we’ll be making more runs,” said Officer Smith.

In Phase 3 of reopening, social gatherings in Indiana may now have up to 100 people and social distancing is still recommended to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

For the latest guidelines for Indiana, click here.

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(This story was originally published on May 26, 2020)

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