Washoe County Sheriff explains crime rate numbers during COVID-19

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) When crime rates drop, that's usually a positive or encouraging sign. However, when it comes to the drop in domestic violence cases and arrests in Washoe County, during the COVID-19 quarantine, those numbers may not necessarily be a good thing.

"Is it because you know if I'm the victim and my batterer is sitting right next to me and I have no ability to get away, am I too terrified to call because I may not have an out," Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam, said. "Because we're in stay at home and I can't go to a hotel or a casino because they're all shut down."

Balaam said his office is working with advocacy groups like Safe Embrace to make sure that victims know they still have options.

"Hopefully we never have a pandemic again but if we go into these types of situations we'll know kind of what to look for and how to help those victims if they felt that way, how we can get them that help," Balaam said.

The sheriff's office reports that in Washoe County there was a 50 percent decrease in domestic violence arrests during the stay at home orders. There was also a 33 percent decrease in domestic violence cases during that same period of time. Now that businesses are reopening, both of those numbers have increased.

"As we're meeting with victims and taking those cases, we're asking them how safe did you feel during the stay at home? Did you reach out to us or were you too in fear to reach out for us?" Balaam said.

He also said that calls for services and family disturbances also increased during quarantine.

"Is that because during the quarantine time the neighbors heard people so we got called before it turned physical? So we were able to intercede and our officers and deputies were doing a concerted effort to mitigate those situations," Balaam said.

Balaam said the sheriff's office will continue to track these numbers and trends so that moving forward everyone can get the help they need.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2020