COVID-19: Crime rates going down in Durham

Dave Selby, Director of Corporate Communications for the Durham Regional Police Service.

After more than a month of social distancing, crime rates are going down, according to the Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS).

The first few weeks was a “mixed bag,” says Dave Selby, director of corporate communications for DRPS.

“We saw some crimes go up, some crimes go down. We did see the initial increase of break and enters,” says Selby.

A month later, almost all crimes are decreasing, according to Selby.

Although Selby says the crime rate has gone down – he adds statistics aren’t readily available.

There are still crimes happening within the GTA and Durham Region, he says.

Selby adds there has been a decrease in urgent calls and an increase in less-urgent calls, which are mostly “tips” and “low-priority” disputes.

The DRPS is also screening people for symptoms over the phone by asking callers health-related questions before responding to the location in an attempt to ensure the safety of its officers.

“When officers are dealing with a situation where COVID-19 is involved or suspected they would definitely put on their safety equipment,” says Selby.

While police are monitoring Durham’s streets during this time, other institutions also need to maintain a security presence.

For example, the security team at Ontario Tech University (Ontario Tech) and Durham College (DC) has faced challenges of its own since COVID-19 began.

When the pandemic led to school closures, the security team was getting hourly updates while many people still tried to enter the school.

However, things have now calmed down, according to Tom Lynch, director of campus safety for DC and Ontario Tech.

“We’re doing well, we are maintaining a security presence for a number of reasons,” says Lynch.

Protecting assets, maintaining electrical systems and ensuring no break-ins are just some of the jobs the security team is continuing to monitor.

“We can’t sit back now, our patrol has to be heightened,” says Lynch. “I’ve made it very clear and our security has responded very well to the fact that we have to be on our toes and patrol the interior and exterior.”

The campus has remained closed but the security team is present, as well as those who have required permission to access the campuses.

Both DRPS and security teams continue to provide essential safety services for Durham despite COVID-19.

It’s something Selby says the community appreciates.

“We’ve been getting a lot of positive messages to ‘keep up the good work’, there’s a lot of support being shown for our officers, which we really appreciate,” says Selby.