While the nearly eight week long shelter-in-place order changed many aspects of life for the residents of Colusa County, local first responders said that crime and emergency response rates have stayed pretty consistent with the status quo despite the worldwide pandemic.
Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Mike Bradwell said he has not seen or heard of any significant changes in frequency or type of response calls during the time the shelter-in-place order was in effect.
“I believe there was a slight increase in domestic violence situations but it has since settled down,” said Bradwell. “Calls have been as usual which always tend to trend up and down throughout the year.”
According to Bradwell, there has been no increase in domestic violence calls for service compared to last year.
“There have actually been five less,” said Bradwell. “Our disturbance calls have increased from the previous year and may be due to everyone abiding by stay-at-home orders.”
Bradwell said Sheriff’s Department records indicate that there were 239 disturbance calls from March 13 through May 13 this year, compared to 165 disturbance calls during the same time period last year.
According to Sun-Herald archives, during that two month timeframe there were a total of seven felony domestic violence related arrests within the county this year.
Online county forums have been buzzing with talks of increased suicide attempts within the county during the time the stay-at-home order was in effect but Bradwell said he has not seen an increase in these types of calls.
Williams Fire Chief Jeff Gilbert said his department did see an increase in suicide attempts and domestic violence related calls within the last few months but other types of calls lessened in frequency while the stay-at-home order was in effect.
“The average medical call has decreased as I believe people do not want to go to a hospital due to the pandemic,” said Gilbert. “We have still had a fair amount of vehicle accidents and I believe that is somewhat due to people driving faster on the roadways due to less traffic.”
Shelley Wilson, public information officer for the Williams area California Highway Patrol, said her department has not seen any major changes in call responses during the pandemic.
According to Wilson, officers from this department typically respond to traffic collisions more than other types of calls.
James Saso, Chief of Police for the Williams Police Department said calls for service have not decreased during the shelter-in-place within his department’s jurisdiction.
“However, we are not seeing any additional calls for service related to any particular event more so than during normal times,” said Saso.
Saso said his biggest concern at this time remains the state’s decision to set bail at zero for most misdemeanor and low-level felonies, partially to keep jails from overcrowding and becoming coronavirus hotspots, which has led to a cycle of arrest and release for repeat offenders.
As an example, Saso said that his department cited and released someone for possession of drug paraphernalia and disobeying a court order last Thursday. The next afternoon, Saso said his department arrested the same individual again for felony arson. They were released from jail just hours after the incident but later that evening, said Saso, his department issued the same individual another citation for trespassing.
“These repeat offenders feel empowered and know even if they do go to jail for lower level felonies, they’ll be released and free to continue their criminal behavior,” said Saso. ”It’s frustrating for both victims and for law enforcement. Unfortunately, the zero bail order will remain in effect for 90 days after the Governor declares the state of emergency over. As we move towards the warmer months, I have a concern we’ll be handling more of these types of incidents.”