Caseload Drops for Homer PD During Pandemic Year
During Monday night’s Homer City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, council members heard the annual report from city Police Chief Mark Robl.
His report showed that one side effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic in the past year has been a sizable reduction in the police citations.
“In March when COVID hit us, our activity levels started to go down rapidly. What we see now a year later is that most criminal justice agencies in Alaska saw anywhere from a 25 percent to over 50 percent drop in the number of cases they work,” Robl said. “In Homer, here we saw a drop of approximately 43 percent.”
Chief Robl explained that the reduction had multiple reasons, including a change in crime recording systems. He said that the new record system also makes it easy to share information with the FBI in that agency’s preferred format.
Councilmember Heath Smith asked the chief about how different numbers relate to each other in the report, specifically the dichotomy between the high number of vehicle incidents, but the low number of tickets written.
“There's two reasons. Number one, the record management's change. Another reason is we basically stopped writing tickets when COVID started, in an effort to protect the officers a bit,” he said. “We went to a warning based system until they became repeat offenders, and then they got tickets. So that impacted a lot too.”
Robl added that the incidence of drug-and-alcohol-related arrests in the past year was consistent with the prior years’ average at about 41 percent.