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Impact of social distancing during COVID-19 pandemic on crime in Indianapolis

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Governments have implemented social distancing measures to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include instructions that individuals maintain a distance from one another when in public, limitations on gatherings and the operation of businesses, and instructions to remain at home. Social distancing may have a critical impact on the volume and distribution of crime. Crimes such as residential burglary may be reduced as a result of increased vigilance over personal space and property. Crimes such as domestic violence may increase because of extended periods of contact between potential offenders and victims. Understanding the impact of social distancing on crime is critical for ensuring the safety of police and government capacity to deal with the evolving crisis. Understanding how social distancing policies impact crime may also provide valuable insights into whether people are complying with public health measures. Upon examination of the most recently available data from Indianapolis, IN, we find that social distancing directives are having a limited impact on police calls-for-service, with the exception of increases in vandalism and domestic violence. The overall effect on calls for service is notably smaller than might be expected given the scale of the disruption to social and economic life.
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