COVID-19 cuts Eagle County’s crime rate in half
With fewer people, most crime rates fall, but domestic violence is up
- Vail arrests: 2019 – 79, 2020 – 35
- Avon arrests: 2019 – 28, 2020 – 25
- Eagle County Sheriff’s Office arrests: 2019 – 104, 2020 - 49
The Vail Police Department and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office arrest numbers for the month of March this year were about half the numbers for March of 2019.
Avon’s overall numbers were roughly the same, but the nature of the crimes is different, says Avon Police Chief Greg Daly. Domestic violence in Avon doubled from four incidents a year ago and eight this March. However, the level of violence seems higher for most of this year’s calls, Daly said.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office reported nine domestic violence calls between March 1 and April 17, compared to three for the same period in 2019.
COVID and crime
On Sunday, a 31-year-old man was outside in the parking lot of his Eaglebend apartment in Avon, intoxicated and loudly playing his car stereo, Avon police said. Another resident went out to try to encourage him to come back inside.
The man allegedly pulled a 9 millimeter Glock 19 and cranked off four shots, one east through the parking lot, one west through the parking lot, one south toward Highway 6 and one in the air, according to police.
“We’re lucky he didn’t kill someone,” Daly said.
The man faces five counts for the shooting, ranging from disorderly conduct to reckless endangerment.
Violating the state and county public health order carried the stiffest bond of $1,000. He bonded out of the Eagle County jail Monday morning.
Even under COVID-19 restrictions, Daly said police calls run the normal gamut — assaults; DUIs; disorderly conduct; domestic violence; felony menacing; traffic accidents; graffiti; trespassing; violation of protection orders; robbery — everything except ski thefts and ski pass fraud.
People are not shy about calling police with questions and concerns about COVID-19 etiquette and keeping a safe and respectful distance.
Emergency dispatchers handled a couple dozen calls involving social distancing issues, the Vail police records division reported. For most of those, police officers patiently educated individuals on requirements.
“Generally speaking, we’ve been able to address it by discussing it with the individuals,” Daly said. “My understanding is that people have been quite good and understanding with each other and the public good.”
However, there are reports of people not getting along.
Earlier this week, a 51-year-old man reportedly refused to stay 6 feet away from other people at the Edwards Village Market. The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office says that when a store employee asked him to step back, he ranted about “media hype.” That’s about the time he allegedly stepped between another customer and an employee and purposely coughed on the items the customer was buying, according to the report.
The man was cited for violation of a public health order, disorderly conduct and second-degree tampering, in lieu of arrest.
Fewer people in jail
Eagle County Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Wyk runs the Eagle County jail where 28 inmates have been held through the COVID-19 crisis. When it’s at capacity, the jail can house 110 inmates.
“We’ve been working with the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender and the courts to make sure people are in custody who need to be,” Van Wyk said.
Work release, where inmates report to an outside job and return to jail when their workday is done, has been canceled. Instead, inmates are painting the inside of the jail, something Van Wyk has been trying to schedule for years.
In late March, jail populations around Colorado’s 5th Judicial District — Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek counties — were down an average of 43%, a combination of an early-release program and inmates finishing their sentences, and then not replaced by as many people being arrested, law enforcement officials say.