Crime rates falling in San Luis Obispo County

By KAREN VELIE

Coronavirus cases continue to rise. People are sheltering in place. And crime is down in San Luis Obispo County.

Within hours of the first San Luis Obispo County resident testing positive for the coronavirus, on March 14, local law enforcement began seeing a steep decrease in crime. Because of fewer calls for service, and fewer arrests, the number of people booked into the SLO County Jail has also fallen.

During the seven days before the first county coronavirus case was confirmed, about 25 people were booked each day into county jail.

On March 14, the day the first individual tested positive, deputies booked 29 people into the county jail. A day later, the number of bookings fell to 18.

The numbers continued to fall for four days — 10 on March 16, six on March 17, and two on March 18 — before the numbers appear to have leveled out. From March 18 through March 20, there have been an average of three bookings per day.

In Grover Beach, calls for service have fallen dramatically from an average of 55 a day, about 380 a week, to a total of 93 calls last week, Grover Beach Police Chief John Peters said.

“My assumption is there are less people out and about because of the health crisis,” Peters said. “I think we are just seeing a lot of people playing it safe given the virus being so contagious.”

Arrests and calls are also down in Paso Robles. Officers are issuing citations instead of making arrests and the department is making an attempt to reduce the number of inmates at the jail during the health crisis, Caleb Davis, a commander with the Paso Robles Police Department, said.

“It is a combination of everything involved with everything that’s going on,” Davis said. “Less people are out and about, our calls into our dispatch center our down, and our officers are taking a little bit of a different approach — making sure they are taking proper safe precautions.”

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