SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police say they have seen a “dramatic uptick” in domestic violence-related calls over the past two weeks, which is about the same time concerns over the coronavirus started to take hold in Utah.
“The numbers are showing that over the last two weeks, there has been an increase of 33% in these types of calls,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday.
From March 16-22, police responded to 96 calls of domestic violence in Salt Lake City, according to department statistics. Officers responded to the same number of calls from March 9-15. But from March 2-8, there were 73 calls.
“The numbers have been increasing since the beginning of the year, but showed a dramatic uptick over the last two weeks,” according to the statement,
Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said the department believes the increase is in direct relation to businesses being closed and more residents staying home, and the uncertainty and stress of residents leading up to the closures.
On March 16, Salt Lake City’s bars were closed and restaurants were ordered to conduct curbside delivery orders only. On March 13, all schools statewide were ordered to do a soft closure, meaning students were told to stay home. On March 12, Gov. Gary Herbert announced that gatherings in Utah should be limited to 100 people. Those restrictions were later limited to gatherings of 10 people or less. On March 11, the NBA season was suspended after the Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
“These are challenging times and people are under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, this stress can spill out into relationships,” Salt Lake Police Police Chief Mike Brown said in a prepared statement. “It is never acceptable to perpetrate violence against another. We encourage people to find healthy ways of handling their stress and to think twice before acting in anger.”
Salt Lake police announced late last week that domestic violence was one area they planned to monitor closely as more and more people started staying at home.
Wilking said officers are still compiling numbers about other crimes, but said initial reports show home burglaries seem to be down. And he said the city has not seen an increase in noise complaints as other cities outside of Utah have reported since restricting more people to their homes.
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or knows of a victim in Salt Lake City is encouraged to call police at 801-799-3000 and ask to speak with a victim advocate or call a 24-hour hotline at 801-580-7969.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233 or the Utah LINKLine at 1-800-897-5465 for confidential assistance.