MASON CITY, Iowa - The pandemic has had an effect on calls for service for the Mason City Police Department.
Data shows that there were nearly a thousand fewer calls for service in 2020 (18,789, compared to 19,582 the year prior). Numbers for traffic citations (1,458 in 2019; 864 in 2020), written warnings (1,458 in 2019; 864 in 2020), crash reports (1,044 in 2019; 741 in 2020) and traffic stops (2,834 in 2019; 1,526 in 2020) were all down.
Chief Jeff Brinkley attributes the drop to more people staying inside, and has found this pattern at other departments.
"A lot of our night shift guys said they can roll up to the street at 9 o'clock, and there's not much going on after that. That was a pretty consistent theme from our local partners, local law enforcement agencies, talked to some troopers that said the same thing. Not a lot out there."
While numbers declined during the first three months of the pandemic, levels in all categories have since rebounded, and Brinkley feels it's likely that levels will go back to a normal average this year.
"We track stats like that at the state level in terms of annual fatalities and that sort of thing. There's a certain amount of...you congest the road of cars, we're going to have some accidents. People are distracted, not paying attention, there's weather. There are causes for those things."
As some departments and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving rely on revenue to come from traffic citations and tickets, Brinkley says that revenue is dealt with at the state level, with little to none of that revenue coming back to the local level, and that the department largely relies on other funding sources like property taxes.