Monday, May 20, 2024

Recognizing crime before and after COVID

By Jeremy Binning

Dr. Mustafa Demir held a presentation on Zoom March 21 about crime before, during and after COVID-19 restrictions. 

Demir is an associate professor in the criminal justice department who spent 20 years as a police administrator with the Turkish National Police. He has experience working with the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Demir earned his PhD in criminal justice at Rutgers University. He also received his MA degrees in criminal justice from both Rutgers University and John Jay College. 

The presentation centered around the research he conducted in Burlington, Vermont. It began with facts about the effects of COVID, including statistics about the number of COVID deaths from the country compared to the state. The presentation continued by introducing various theories as to why crime increased with COVID restrictions. Demir explained the demographic of Burlington; the population is approximately 42,500, with 85% of the population being white. 

Furthermore, a year before COVID 100 officers were sworn in but that number decreased to 68 in 2020. 

Later on in the presentation, Demir showed slides that contained a chart of different types of crimes before and after the restrictions were implemented. He narrowed it down to three types: violent, property and quality-of-life crimes. The first chart shown was on violent crimes and he pointed out the sudden increase as the restrictions began. 

However, they would quickly decrease again and have been trending both ways as time continued. Property crimes significantly increased since restrictions started. Lastly, the quality-of-life crimes were significantly down because of the quarantine mandate.

After extensive research, Demir created a summary. He found that before the restrictions, all of the crimes had a decreasing track. Violent and quality-of-life crimes continued to trend down, mainly due to restrictions to being outside and around people, whereas property crimes increased. In post-COVID restrictions, only violent and property crimes continued to increase. 

Skylar Ebalarosa, a student of Demir, attended the Zoom presentation as a part of the credit for her class. Describing the event, Ebalarosa felt that she took a lot away from the presentation.

“I was shocked to see how drastic the restrictions affected the crime wave during that time,” Ebalarosa said. 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway Ebalarosa got from the slideshow was the explanation of the general strain theory and how it could explain some of the increases in crime. 

“This theory made the most sense to me personally because it explains how some people react to negative emotions and can lead them to do things that aren’t acceptable,” Ebalarosa said.

The presentation was intended to inform students about the trends in crime before and after COVID restrictions. Demir explained and supported his findings with relevant facts based on the research he conducted in the Burlington area. 

This presentation was put together by Tuesday Talks with the help of Dr. Jamie Bapp, the associate dean of arts and science. 

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