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Crime in focus in Coachella Valley cities as coronavirus pandemic continues


A shooting in Desert Hot Springs near the intersection of West Drive and Santa Cruz Road drew police and investigators to the scene.

The gunfire, happening during a recent period in which crime rates have generally gone down around the valley.

Representatives at valley police departments tell us when it comes to things like burglary, property crimes, and thefts, that activity slowed during the shutdown, and did not spike when things reopened.

"People were at their homes so they were doing a better job of taking care of and protecting their properties," said Indio Police Department Administrative Officer Ben Guitron.

Even after the recent lifting of restrictions, police representatives in Cathedral City and Indio tells us that the crime rate and calls for service remained relatively flat, despite 3 homicides in Cathedral City in March and 4 in Indio so far this year.

Regarding the pandemic, representatives for those two departments and Palm Springs police tell us they have not seen any crime spikes directly attributable to the Pandemic.

"We don't think the pandemic as been a major factor in influencing or contributing to crime," said Cathedral City Police Commander Paul Herrera.

We asked Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Jim Henson to comment on crime in the city related to the pandemic and we were told he was not available to comment, while he investigated the overnight shooting.

Two crime analysts we spoke with say crime typically increases during the summer.

That trend, combined with other factors including job losses, financial difficulties, isolatio, and mental and emotional stress caused by the pandemic, have them concerned about crime rates in the days ahead.

"People are under a lot stress. People are dealing with mental stress. It's a tough time for a lot of people," said Chris Hermann, crime analyst and Assistant Professor at CUNY, John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

While remaining vigilant, Officers in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Indio say they're not anticipating crime spikes in the days ahead and expect their approaches to crime and law enforcement to remain the same.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department provides police services in Coachella, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Indian Wells.

The Department did not respond to our request for comment.

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.


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