Boulder Police Chief: Crime Remains Up Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused disruptions in normal life at almost every level during 2020, including how police officers in Boulder, across the state and across the country are handling incidents of crime. KGNU’s Roz Brown says Boulder City Council received a new report on crime statistics last night.

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Maris Herold arrived in Boulder as the new police chief last March in the midst of the pandemic and says COVID-19 has created a significant challenge.

“Assaults are up compared to other violent crimes; motor vehicle thefts and theft from autos are up in Boulder and across Boulder County; burglaries are up in Boulder; domestic violence calls are up and victim services calls are up; sexual assault crimes are down but calls to crisis centers are up; and child abuse, DUI’s, and drug offenses are down across all cities in the county,” said Herold.

In presenting the ‘Police Strategic Action Plan and Crime Update’ to Boulder City Council last night, Chief Herold said jail space continues to be very problematic – which isn’t unique to Boulder but also is occurring across the country.

“But as the pandemic worsens the jail restrictions worsen,” added Herold.

She says many police responses in 2020 could not have been anticipated.

“We received intelligence into potential election disruptions and tremendous resources went into that,” noted Herold. “COVID-19 has been resource-driven so staffing has been difficult. The wildfires also took a tremendous amount of resources away from the police department. And the murder of George Floyd has meant working to build trust going forward.”

Beth Christenson has been hired by the Boulder Police Department to make sense of the crime statistics. She says police receive about 800,000 calls per year, with 75% of those classified as reactive.

“This leaves very little time for proactive policing,” says Christenson. “Proactive policing may include directing patrols into hot spots, or engaging with the community on other crime prevention techniques.”

Christenson says crime is still relatively low in Boulder, but crime is up in almost every category.

“Theft from autos, which means taking something from the vehicle but not the vehicle itself is up 37% compared to the past five years,” said Christenson. “These crimes are concentrated around shopping districts or where autos are left unattended for a long period of time.”

It may not surprise anyone who has lived in Boulder for any length of time, that the theft of bicycles continues to be a chronic problem.

“So as of November 22, 995 bicycles were reported stolen in Boulder for a total value 1.83 million dollars,” added Christenson.

Christenson says the department has identified hotspot locations for bicycle thefts and officers are issued alerts about where those crimes are occurring. But she says anyone with a bike should have it registered for a greater chance of recovery. In general, Christensen urged Boulder residents to lock their bikes, their cars and their homes to prevent crimes of opportunity as the pandemic rages on.