By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The Trussville Police Department released its annual report comparing data from 2020 to data from 2019. The report shows overall crime was down in the city in 2020 and only a few types of crime, including unlawful breaking and entering of vehicles, and identity theft, saw slight increases. Other increases seen included noise complaints and overdose calls.
The data in the annual report was pulled from call for service (CFS) data. It shows the Trussville Police Department received 16,153 calls for service in 2020, compared to 19,036 calls in 2019.
Trussville Police Chief Eric Rush credits social distancing and quarantines for the decrease in calls.
“The COVID lockdowns are the main reason,” said Rush. “There were several months where not much at all was happening. Most businesses were closed and our daily call volume was down overall.”
The report is split into several categories: crimes against persons, property crimes, crimes involving theft, crimes against public order, robbery, domestic violence, traffic accidents, and citations/warnings.
In the crimes against persons category, assaults, harassments and missing persons cases were down in 2020 compared to 2019. Fights were up 58%. In 2019, the police department responded to 41 fight calls. In 2020, there were 65. The data shows there were two kidnapping calls in 2020, compared to one in 2019. There was no increase in homicides.
Shoplifting calls were down 30% and vehicle thefts were down 33%.
However, the number of unlawful breaking and entering of vehicles increased from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020. The Chief of Police continually warned people throughout the year about the importance of keeping vehicles secure. He said he will continue to do so and he hopes people heed the warning.
“I really just think that most people are complacent and just simply forget to lock their car doors at night,” said Rush. “All I can do is continue to inform the community about these crimes and the importance of removing valuables and locking their cars.”
Another increase was seen in identity thefts. In 2019, there were 96 calls about identity theft. In 2020, there were 126, making for a 31% increase. Rush said people choosing to shop online because of the pandemic could be a reason for the increase.
“I feel like it’s due the increase in online shopping due to COVID,” he said. “Personal identifying information is easier to steal online than it is by shopping in an actual retail store. Plus we are seeing an increase in scams that are done by phone and email.”
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In 2020, the number of overdose calls doubled the 2019 number, making for a 100% increase. In 2019, there were 13 overdose calls and in 2020, there were 26.
“Overdoses doubled this past year and I really don’t have a solid reason why,” Rush said. “We have a narcotics unit that works drug cases every day. We are battling with the overwhelming amount of illegal drugs that are in our society. Abusing drugs is a personal choice until it becomes a life-altering addiction.”
Rush said of all the overdose calls in the city of Trussville, three of them ended in death. The most common drugs seen in the area have been methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, hydrocodone and heroin, or a combination of those.
Noise complaints also increased from 15 calls in 2019 to 28 calls in 2020. Again, Rush pointed to the pandemic as a possible reason for the increase.
“People were at home more and more nuisance noises were being created,” Rush said. “Plus more people were at home to call and report a problem.”
Several people complained about noise after the opening of the Trussville Entertainment District but Rush said only a small portion of calls to the police department were concerning the new stage downtown.
On the other hand, the number of driving under influence cases decreased in 2020 in the city of Trussville by 35%.
Despite concerns from experts on COVID-19 causing an increase in domestic-related cases, the city of Trussville had a lower amount of domestic calls in 2020. According to the annual report, there was a 5% decrease in domestic dispute calls and a 9% decrease in domestic violence calls.
In 2019, there were 4,784 traffic citations issued. In 2020, there were 3,306 traffic citations issued.
As for the Trussville City Jail, 1,123 people were processed in 2020, compared to 1,416 people in 2019.
In 2020, the Trussville Police Department had the help of Flock Safety. The 19 license plate readers throughout the city led to the recovery of 26 stolen vehicles. Furthermore, detectives were able to use the technology as an investigative tool, Rush said.
The entire annual report from the Trussville Police Department can be read below.