Culver City police data reflects impact of COVID-19 on society

Wellness was a big topic of discussion in 2020, as people’s collective mental health continued to erode as lockdowns dragged on and isolation was extended. This resulted in a rise in mental health calls taken by the police in 2020. (CCPD)

The year 2020 was a special year for all the wrong reasons, and many of its effects will be visible through the annals of time due to the data that has been collected during the year, and how starkly it contrasts with others.

One of the most prominent forms comes in police data, which the Culver City Police Department (CCPD) compiles in their monthly reports.

While the Dec. 2020 report has yet to be released, many of the number already demonstrate the effects that COVID has had not only on policing, but on society as a whole.

As expected, due to the lockdowns decreasing overall activity in the city, the calls for service to police have dropped, currently sitting at almost 30% below what it was in 2019. A similar decrease has been seen in the number of police reports filed, with that number down a third from what it was last year.

The clearer streets that resulted from less people traveling was an impressive decrease in response time by CCPD. Officers responded 24 seconds faster to emergency situations on average, and a minute and 12 seconds sooner for non-emergencies than in 2019.

Due to lockdowns keeping people off the roads, one of the easiest things to predict was the dramatic dropoff in traffic collisions in 2020. While trends were seemingly headed in a similar direction as they did in 2019, the introduction of COVID-19 completely flattened that trend, resulting in a decrease currently sitting at over 50% from last year. (CCPD)

In spite of the lockdowns, there was still plenty of police activity, and while numbers were mostly down across the board, two types of calls actually rose in 2020.

The number of violent crimes committed increased by 9%, but the makeup of the crimes shifted dramatically. While aggravated assault numbers rose in 2020 from 68 to 118 total cases (42.37%), robbery cases went through a similar drop from 102 to just 65 in 2019 (-36.3%).

Additionally, mental health calls have risen by almost 50% in 2019, rising to 1,064 total calls from 720 last year. This number is one of the most inconsistent in the monthly report, with 2020 representing just a 26.3% increase from the calls in 2018 (842), but a dramatic 183% more than the 376 calls in 2017.

Both of these increases were expected as isolation due to lockdowns has been widely accepted by science as a major factor in the increase in mental health issues.

On the other side of the fold, the number of ‘Use of Force’ calls have decreased from 139 in 2019 to 99 in 2020 for a decrease of 28.78%. Additionally, the distribution in violent crimes arrests based on race saw a dramatic shift in 2020. In 2019, 64% of the violent crimes arrests were of black people, while just 16% were of Hispanics and 11% of white people. 2020 saw just 42% of the violent crimes arrest being those of black people, while the percentage of Hispanics arrested for violent crimes rose to 37%. The number of white arrests rose slightly to 15%.

The overall initiation of situations that resulted in an arrest shifted slightly as well, with the community initiating 58% of the arrests by calling police, while 42% were initiated directly by police in 2020. This is a slight divergence from the more even 51/49 police to community initiation ratio present in 2019.

Parking citations are down by a monumental 65.5% from last year as the city relieved many of its parking restrictions to assist in curbside and other forms of food pickup.

With the city providing relief on parking rules around the city to make lives easier for residents during COVID-19, the number of parking citations issued in 2020 took a significant drop from the number issued in years prior. (CCPD)

Traffic citations have seen a similar drop off, as these citations are down 66.1% from 2019.

Red light camera citations were down as well due to a decrease in drivers, but the dropoff was not nearly as significant, decreasing by just 27%.

2020 also saw the Black Lives Matter movement dramatically shift the way policing is viewed in the United States, and while CCPD has taken significant steps to show their willingness to work with the community, a metric that some may have expected to rise as a result instead remained similar to 2019.

In 2020, there were 23 complaints filed, with 13 pending and two sustained as of the end of Nov. 2020. While the overall sustain rate of these complaints is still in the air, it stands to reason that this number could end up being similar to the rate in 2019, with seven of the 18 total citizen complaints filed that year sustained. There were seven internal complaints in both 2019 and 2020, and all seven were sustained.

Look for an update to these numbers with the release of the Dec. 2020 monthly report.