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Newly released stats show just how much Riverhead crime reports dropped during COVID-19

Total arrests made by Riverhead Town police in the first half of 2020 fell by about 98% compared to the same six-month period in 2019, according statistics provided by the department.

Police Chief David Hegermiller attributed the decline in crime to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which fewer people have been out and about.

“I think it has to do with COVID,” he said. “People don’t want to leave their homes. I think that has a lot to do with it. There’s been a reduction in activity.”

Chief Hegermiller briefly discussed the department’s latest statistics for June at last Thursday’s Town Board work session. Those stats showed police responded to 26% fewer calls in June (2,102) compared to the same month in 2019 (2,757).

“Things are looking well,” the chief said.

The June statistics for 2019 and 2020 also showed comparatively fewer motor vehicle accidents (down from 174 to 149), way fewer summonses issued (1,225 to 487), fewer prisoners detained (59 to 9), arrests (81 to 12), criminal incidents (192 to 159) and non-criminal incidents (2,565 to 1,943).

The same was true when comparing police statistics from April and May of 2019 and 2020, with the exception that non-criminal incidents increased in April 2020.

The other category where the numbers increased was domestic incidents, which rose from 68 in June 2019 to 83 last month, a trend that police across the country have reported since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“Cabin fever maybe?” the chief said. “It is a stressful time for everybody.”

Overall domestic incidents for the first six months, however, showed a minor increase of 13. The biggest increases have come in the last two months.

Crime stats

                     Through June 2019     2020

Calls for service          13,110   12,990

Motor vehicle accidents   893     692         

Arrests                  493     168

Criminal incidents        915     828

Non-criminal incidents    14,778   12,162  

Domestic violence        435     448