The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to reshape nearly every aspect of society, including the criminal justice system. As early as March 17, 2020, Los Angeles announced new efforts to contain the outbreak, including intentionally reducing the number of arrests made and the early release of many prisoners. It’s been reported that those at the highest risk for COVID-19 complications are individuals with preexisting health conditions, which many inmates already have. Throughout Los Angeles County, law enforcement agencies have made fewer arrests this month, focusing only on violent or dangerous offenders.
Both the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) made fewer arrests within the last few weeks, as officers were instructed to only arrest the most violent offenders while citing other offenders and releasing them. By making fewer arrests, law enforcement agencies are hoping to reduce the number of people held in crowded cells, where the virus could easily spread. So far, it’s been reported that LAPD arrests declined by 14 percent in over the course of March, while the daily arrest average among deputies has fallen from 300 to 60.
The Impact of Quarantine on Crime
Under Governor Gavin Newsom’s order for Californians to shelter in place during the pandemic, more people are spending time in their homes and only venturing out for essential services, such as food and medicine. Fewer people are on the streets, so criminal activity is likely to decline as a result. However, it may be that burglaries and other forms of property crime may fall, but domestic violence could increase with families confined within close quarters. Police remain committed to responding to reports of criminal activity, but they may take more factors into account when deciding whether to make an arrest.
Increased Precautions for Law Enforcement Officers
Those who work in law enforcement recognize that they are still at risk for contracting COVID-19 while performing their job duties. As much as possible, front desk and other station employees have been asked to work from home and make themselves available via email and video conferencing. Officers in the field have all been issued protective gear, such as goggles, protective masks, and several pairs of gloves. However, officers have been instructed to only use these items if they are responding to someone who may have the virus—they have not yet made this gear mandatory for every response.
If you are currently facing criminal charges in Los Angeles County, reach out to the Law Offices of Brian A. Newman today for trusted and aggressive legal counsel. Call (424) 254-5186 to arrange a free initial consultation now.