Local law enforcement officers have been patrolling quieter streets in recent days as schools and businesses shuttered, border-crossing restrictions went into effect and residents practiced social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s definitely less traffic out on the roadways, there’s less people out and about,” said Sgt. Santiago Gonzales of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office.
Property crime reports around the county have dropped, Gonzales said on Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’ve had a burglary,” he said, adding that he thought that could be explained by “the obvious reasons – everybody’s at home.”
Gonzales said that there has been an uptick in juvenile problems, including some children running away from home.
“That’s probably as a result of kids not going to school and they’re staying home and they’re having issues with their parents at home and then they call us for assistance,” he said.
Nogales Police Department Cpl. Oscar Mesta said his department hadn’t seen any changes in the volume or nature of calls that police officers respond to.
“There’s no difference,” Mesta said. “No difference on calls or anything.”
Both spokesmen said their departments have been taking measures to protect officers against the coronavirus.
Mesta said NPD officers were given latex gloves and face masks to use to prevent transmission of the virus, and that the department is encouraging people to make reports online.
Gonzales said the Sheriff’s Office is trying to handle more calls over the phone and dispatchers are asking questions related to virus exposure before sending officers to respond.
As a result of the county government’s decision to close close its building starting on Wednesday, he added, the Sheriff’s Office lobby space will be closed.
“We’re trying to limit… basically any unnecessary contact with the public to try to limit the exposure,” Gonzales said.
As of Tuesday, there had been one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County and no deaths. Statewide, 326 people had tested positive for the disease – the majority in Maricopa County – and five had died, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.