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What will crime look like in the age of coronavirus?

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With businesses shut down and the streets virtually empty these days, crime can take a strange turn during coronavirus, and police are adapting the best they can.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor joined the Gee and Ursula Show to discuss how the department is managing despite being stretched thin.

“Part of it is that people have the proper level of concern, that they not run loose with rumors and that they know that people with badges on as well as people who don’t have badges on — medical people, people at grocery stores, utility workers — lots of people are on the job paying attention, doing the right thing,” he said.

“This does stretch us more thinly, but I get to work with people who really care about what they’re doing. We have plans in place. We continue to have plans in place, and we intend to be there for the community.”

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The Supreme Court of Washington recently ordered judges to essentially keep some of the low level offenders out of jail. What does Pastor think about that?

“I think that as we look at criminal justice reform, it shouldn’t be ‘put it in reverse reform.’ There are concerns about jail and equity and things like that, but it doesn’t mean we shut down jails. Right now, we have to very carefully adjust how many people we have in jail to keep them safe, keep them healthy,” he said.

What can people expect of crime in the age of coronavirus?

“Here’s some things that we know we will expect with more people staying home: There’s going be fewer residential burglaries, right? That’s not hard to figure out. With more businesses closed, there’s going to be more commercial burglaries,” he said. “And so we have asked our people to pay special attention to shops and stores that are closed that people might break into.”

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“We can expect more people getting on one another’s nerves, being upset with one another, more disputes. So we will expect — we haven’t seen a big rise yet — but as people stay home and interact with people over scarce resources, we will expect more disputes and we need to be prepared for that.”

Regarding protective equipment and preparedness, Sheriff Pastor believes we as a country need take a lesson from coronavirus.

“Well, we have been able to equip everybody with a small amount of equipment. This is a lesson that we need to learn as a country, that it’s important to be able to invest in the common good, to be able to be prepared for things like this, not to neglect the general good of the community in order to focus on our own more narrow issues for our own advantage,” he said.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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