Culver City monthly reports show effects of waning pandemic

Monthly reports for the first quarter of the year have been released by the Culver City Police Department that demonstrate the effects of the waning pandemic.

The structure of the department has remained relatively the same, in spite of calls for massive reform over the past year following the death of George Floyd. 

In Jan. 2019, there were 155 total staff in the department, 109 of those being sworn staff. That number has remained consistent, with 154 total staff and 113 sworn according to the April 2021 monthly report.

However, there were 10 openings for sworn officers as presented in the Jan. 2019 report, as compared to just seven in April 2021. However,  the total number of openings listed in department overall the April 2021 report is 18, compared to just 16 openings listed in Jan. 2019.

The most notable change is a 25.8% projected increase in annual violent crimes, based on numbers from the first quarter.

According to these reports, there were 86 violent Group A crimes in the city in the first four months of 2021, which represents a significant increase from both 2020 and 2019. At this point in 2020, the city had seen just 62 violent Group A crimes and just 64 in 2019.

One area of concern in particular is the Fox Hills neighborhood, which has seen crimes at an increased frequency in part due to the Westfield – Culver City mall that resides there. Since the mall reopened, there have been several attacks in the parking lot, which was addressed at a Zoom meeting with businesses and the Culver City Police Department held in April.

At that meeting, Police Chief Manny Cid noted that assaults were up 92% in 2020, but that this was a trend that was not exclusive to Culver City. This number has actually stayed steady, up 66% from this time last year and projected to increase by 37% overall in 2021.

Cid also noted another type of crime that naturally saw an increase due to the pandemic: burglaries. “When businesses are closed, there’s no one around, it creates a greater opportunity for people to break in, thinking that they won’t be detected,” Cid noted at the April meeting.

While the police department is projecting a 15% decrease in burglaries in 2021, there have actually been 13 more burglaries in 2021 than in 2020 through April. 

Another aspect of policing that has naturally seen more activity is on the vehicular side, particularly with parking citations. The overall increase of drivers on the road as COVID-19 wanes has seen a dramatic increase in traffic citations being issued, even beyond pre pandemic numbers. 

Almost 80% of the total number of citations in 2020 have already been issued in 2021, and the city is on pace to issue about 17% more traffic citations than it did in 2019. 

That difference is even more pronounced when just looking at the April numbers. 444 citations were issued in April of this year, compared to just nine in April 2020.

On the other hand, parking and red light camera citations have actually seen a decrease from last year. While parking citations are projected to finish 25% below last year’s totals, the number of citations issued in April of this year were over double what they were in April 2020.

Red light camera citations have seen an even smaller dropoff, projected to finish just 2.3% of the total from last season with similar numbers in comparable months to boot. Through April, 10,420 red light citations were issued, compared to 31,987 in all of 2020.

Overall, calls for service from the department are projected to increase 6.3% this year. While the 4,037 calls in April 2021 are less than the 4,177 and 4,776 calls in April 2020 and April 2019 respectively, it is more than the 3,926 and 3,916 calls in 2018 and 2017.

While calls for service saw an increase, police reports have not been filed at a pre pandemic rate. The 359 reports filed in April is greater than the 246 filed in the same month last year, it is still far below the average of 535 filed from 2017-2019.

One thing that the police department takes great pride in is its response time, and that time has continued to decrease in 2021 despite the rise in traffic. The department’s average response time for the year has decreased by 22 second to 9 minutes, 27 seconds, while the average in emergencies is up just two seconds to four minutes and five seconds, mirroring what it was in 2019. However, these times are still noticeably higher than the three minute, 42 second average the department had in 2018, though that number was much higher at four minutes, 17 seconds.