Has the coronavirus pandemic slowed crime rates in Detroit?

Local 4 Defenders speak with Assistant Chief of the Detroit Police

Local 4 Defenders are taking a close look at crime in Detroit neighborhoods before and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit the city.

DETROIT – Local 4 Defenders are taking a close look at crime in Detroit neighborhoods before and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak hit the city.

Before the pandemic reached Michigan, Detroit violent crime was up 13% compared to last year. Now, violent crime is still up 5% from last year -- but down a considerable amount from a few weeks ago, when COVID-19 took over the city.

In Downtown Detroit Thursday morning, everything is quiet -- hardly any traffic or workers, and crime has taken a dive.

The Detroit Police Crime Tracker Map shows very few reports of crime Downtown over the last few weeks.

Detroit Police Assistant Chief David LeValley says the decrease in crime is to be expected with most people staying home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We do have some cases of smash and grabs at business; that has to do with not a lot of people on the street,” LeValley said.

Detroit police tells Local 4 Defenders that they see about 590 violent and property crimes each week. Since mid-March when the COVID-19 outbreak intensified, however, that number has decreased by about 20% to around 480 crimes each week.

Check out the chart below displaying the differences in Detroit’s crime numbers before and after the pandemic hit.

With the lack of people -- and fewer crimes -- in Downtown Detroit, officers stationed in the city are now being deployed to different areas.

“We have made some shifts in deployment. We have an entire downtown service unit that would typically work downtown, for example at sporting events,” LeValley said “Now we can deploy those individuals to use in other places.”

Some officers are being deployed to the Detroit Fairgrounds site, which has recently been converted into a COVID-19 testing site for the virus hotspot.

“We are actively enforcing the governor’s order in terms of crowds and groups of people actively gathering,” LeValley said. “(We are) checking businesses that are not essential and open that are not supposed to be.”

Last week Detroit Police issued 500 citations and 2000 warnings to businesses that are deemed non-essential by Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s stay-at-home order. The order closes businesses that are not vital to save or sustain lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local 4 Defenders also went through crime reports and discovered that the COVID-19 outbreak is not slowing down criminal activity in all parts of Detroit. The reports show a high number of reported crime in the area of 7 Mile and 8 Mile roads and Gratiot Avenue.

LeValley tells Defenders that these high numbers are not overwhelmingly concerning.

“7 (Mile) and 8 Mile to Gratiot (is) generally one of our busiest (areas) in the city; (it’s) not alarming,” LeValley said. “We do have pockets where people are still coming out and congregating.”

As for the Detroit Police Department, many officers who contracted COVID-19 are now reporting back to work. As of Thursday, 338 police officers are quarantined and 179 have tested positive for COVID-19.

RELATED: Detroit Police Chief James Craig says he is recovered from COVID-19

Detroit police, along with countless Michigan officials, are still encouraging people to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Read our latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic here.

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.