Now that everyone is being encouraged to wear masks, have we just emboldened criminals?

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There are endless implications regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment, crime seems to be holding steady or decreasing while three out of four Americans are under some form of a lockdown. But there is concern in the US and throughout the world regarding the possibility of increasing crime and spouse or child abuse.

Fraud seems to be exploding. A disruption in the world’s illegal drug market could have a profound effect on supply and price and could lead to a rise in crime. Drug treatment is on hold.

Police and correctional officers are becoming infected. People are suggesting that inmates be released. Extremists are viewing the pandemic as an opportunity, Coronavirus And Crime.

But beyond the headlines, there are responses and questions posed by law enforcement and correctional personnel that take the pandemic in different directions.

Masks For Everyone:

A question from a law enforcement representative. President Trump said on Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was urging all Americans to wear masks on a voluntary basis when they leave their homes. Her question is whether criminals will take advantage of the CDC’s suggestion and what that means for victimization?

If everyone is wearing a mask or an improvised face covering, will this embolden criminals to take advantage of the guidance? Will they avoid detection during and after a crime?

There are hundreds of media reports suggesting that jails and prisons release anyone not deemed to be a threat to public safety to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak within correctional facilities. Per multiple media reports, there are facilities and officers with virus issues, Coronavirus And Corrections.

Before the pandemic, violence was rising, Violence.

Will masks and head coverings become an issue? A group of suspected thieves who dressed as FedEx workers to steal goods were all arrested in Connecticut this week — including one of them twice — when residents stuck at home became suspicious and called police. According to The Hartford Courant, police found two unopened iPhones in their car, which the caller said had been stolen from her porch.

After two members of the group were arrested, charged and released, one of them was arrested again, along with an accomplice, that same night. The accused thieves had FedEx shirts and were wearing surgical masks and gloves.

Offering To Test Meth For COVID-19:

Law enforcement agencies across the country are posting tongue-in-cheek PSA’s offering to test meth for the virus. The St. Francis County Sheriff’s Office in Arkansas posted to its official Facebook page on Wednesday.

“WARNING: If you have recently purchased meth locally, it may be contaminated with the [virus],” the post reads. “Please take it to the sheriff’s office or police department and they will test it for free,” KTVU.

Asking Criminals To Stop Committing Crime:

Several police departments across the country are asking criminals in tongue-in-cheek social media posts to stop illegal activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police in Ohio, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Utah and Washington have called on criminals to take a break to allow officers to respond to virus-related issues.

The Salt Lake City Police Department, for example, requested in a post on Facebook last week that “all criminal activities/nefarious behavior to cease until further notice,” The Hill.

“Due to local cases of #COVID-19, PPD is asking all criminal activities and nefarious behavior to cease. We appreciate your anticipated cooperation in halting crime & thank all the criminals in advance. We will certainly let you know when you can resume your normal criminal behavior.”WWLP.

Coughing On Cops:

During a DUI test, Grzegorz Kuprowski became upset with the officers and started coughing on them, saying “get away” and that he had “corona bacteria,” police said. A 52-year-old Niles man allegedly charged at police officers during a DUI arrest and coughed on them while yelling, “Now you have the corona!” police said, Chicago Sun Times.

There are additional reports of offenders spitting or coughing on police and correctional officers while claiming to be infected.

Cop Warns You’re On Your Own:

Law enforcement agencies across the country have stated they will cut down on bookings out of fear that someone with coronavirus may spread the virus in jails to fellow suspects or to staff members, MyNorthwest-Seattle.

Help From The Department Of Justice:

Department of Justice Makes $850 Million Available to Help Public Safety Agencies Address COVID-19 Pandemic

The Department of Justice today announced that it is making $850 million available to help public safety agencies respond to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. The virus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Trump, will allow eligible state, local, and tribal governments to apply immediately for these critical funds. The department is moving quickly to make awards, with the goal of having funds available for drawdown within days of the award.

The solicitation, posted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, within the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), will remain open for at least 60 days and be extended as necessary. OJP will fund successful applicants as a top priority on a rolling basis as applications are received. Funds may be used to hire personnel, pay overtime costs, cover protective equipment and supplies, address correctional inmates’ medical needs and defray expenses related to the distribution of resources to hard-hit areas, among other activities. Grant funds may be applied retroactively to Jan. 20, 2020, subject to federal supplanting rules.

Agencies that were eligible for the fiscal year 2019 State and Local Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program are candidates for this emergency funding. A complete list of eligible jurisdictions and their allocations can be found at https://bja.ojp.gov/program/fy20-cesf-allocations.

For more information about the COVID-19 Emergency Supplemental Funding program, visit https://bja.ojp.gov/funding/opportunities/bja-2020-18553.

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Murdered officer's grave desecrated before headstone even placed

More Examples of Fraud:

From The Crime Report:  As COVID-19 has spread, all manner of criminal schemes, many of them stoking fear and panic, have been taking root, USA Today reports. Kentucky authorities are investigating drive-up testing sites, promising same-day results for $250. A Texas-based website offered a COVID-19 “vaccine” until authorities won a restraining order against its operators.  

In Virginia, telephone scammers, posing as hospital representatives, warned residents of possible virus exposure and tried to lure them to sham test sites. For more than a year, a Georgia man allegedly referred patients to medical testing facilities in return for lucrative kickbacks. Beginning in February, federal prosecutors said, Erik Santos set his sights on a new potential money-maker: the Wuhan virus. Santos is charged with arranging to be paid kickbacks for each COVID-19 test referred when they were bundled with other, more expensive respiratory examinations.

Conclusions:

We are in uncharted territory. Law enforcement and corrections are under enormous strain as we enter months of pandemic quarantine.

The connection between offenders and drug use is profound and there are media reports of disrupted drug markets and distribution. Drug treatment is on hold. What will this do to crime rates and totals?

Will the increased use of masks mean anything? Will crime continue to moderate? Will domestic violence skyrocket? Will police and correctional officers get the equipment they need to function?

It’s a new world and all of us are trying to ascertain what will be next.

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