COVID shutdown dramatically cuts traffic accidents

Evanston police report a dramatic reduction in traffic accidents in the city during the early days of the stay-at-home order here.

Cmdr. Brian Henry says that for the two weeks ending March 30 there were 49 traffic accidents, just 58 percent as many as the 84 accidents recorded during the same period last year.

Henry says there's been an even more dramatic reduction in the number of traffic tickets issued -- just 39 this year, compared to 756 during the same two week period a year ago.

Other than that, Henry says, the pandemic has had little effect on the number of calls police need to respond to.

"We're still getting some retail thefts" and other incidents, Henry says, adding that overall calls are down only slightly.

He said officers responded on Tuesday to a couple of calls complaining about people congregating in parks and playing basketball or other games not permitted during the shutdown.

"But even for those, people have been very cooperative with officers and do tend to break up and go their own way," he added.

Henry said there had been concerns that there might be a spike in domestic violence calls with people forced to spend more time at home, but those calls do not appear to have increased.

To try to reduce the potential for officers to be exposed to the coronavirus at work, Henry says, the department has adjusted its shift schedule from having officers work a mix of 8.5- and 10-hour shifts in a pattern that gives them two days off in every six days to working all 12-hour shifts and having seven days off out of every 14 days.

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