Demand on police service drops as crime shifts because of pandemic
KITCHENER -- Waterloo Regional Police say they've seen an increase in domestic violence and parcel thefts during the pandemic.
They're also closely tracking calls about bad behaviour that are directly related to COVID-19.
The information was shared during the Waterloo Regional Police Service's board meeting, held virtually on Wednesday morning.
While those incidents may be increasing, the chief says the overall demand on the service is down about eight per cent, at least partially because of the pandemic.
"We know that, obviously, when commercial stores are not open and businesses are not open, residential break-ins are down because we have a large portion of our population that's home," Police Chief Bryan Larkin said during the meeting.
"Yet commercial break-and-enters are increasing because a large amount of our commercial businesses are closed. So we can definitely tie some of those things to the pandemic."
Police also say there have been five incidents that led to assault charges involving so-called anti-social behaviour.
These include incidents where people cough or spit on another person, or where there's a fight that's related to COVID-19.
"It's disappointing and frustrating that we're being called to manage these types of issues, but that's our role in society," said Larkin.
Over the weekend, for example, there was an altercation among people lined up outside a grocery store.
On March 20, police say a woman coughed on an elderly man after the got into a fight at the drive-thru of a Starbucks.
"We're working very closely with public health," said Larkin. "So these types of issues that occur where there is coughing and or spitting, which potentially pre-COVID-19 may have been dealth with alternate measures, we're taking a very stern approach and we will take action."
Only one charge has been laid by police under the emergency order. That was at a Cambridge gathering on April 1, where one man refused to comply with what police were asking.
That charge automatically comes with a $750 fine.
Larkin says that, at the height of the pandemic, about 10 per cent of the police force was in self-isolation, either due to travel or potential exposure to the virus.
He says most of members are now back at work.