Joplin sees decrease in domestic violence calls in 2020, raising concerns with officials

JOPLIN, Mo. – Total crime in the City of Joplin is down for 2020, which officials say the pandemic played a part in. But there’s one statistic that dropped, that’s causing concern.

“We’ve seen a reduction overall in crimes, we saw a reduction of about 9% total crime this year.” Joplin Police Chief Sloan Rowland says the pandemic and lockdowns played a role in reducing overall crime in the city. “Just a lot of less people were out on the street driving and having contact with our officers, so, it was definitely a different year.”

But there was one number they were watching closely. “You know originally we thought we would see a rise in domestic violence incidents, we actually saw a drop.”

Chief Rowland says that’s raised concern on their end. “Several national schools of thought on that is whether they’re being reported as much as they were before, or coming into the light, like, with being locked at home a lot of people aren’t seeing as many incidents of child abuse and domestic violence and things as when they’re going to school our out in public.”

It’s also come to the attention of the Lafayette House. Executive Director Susan Hickman says during the initial lockdown last year, their phones pretty much stopped ringing. “With the government shutdown that actually played directly into the hands of an abuser, isolation is what they’re, their primary goal.”

She says some of that may have come from people thinking the Lafayette House wasn’t open during the pandemic. Hickman says they never shut down, but didn’t see a pickup in calls until the community began to reopen. “Once things started to reopen, one thing that we did notice is that the people who did reach out, the abuse was actually more severe and we were seeing larger families.”

Hickman also says the lockdown itself could have led to new domestic violence situations. “When you have different tensions that you’re not use to and you don’t have that out that you normally have, there’s, some of those stresses are going to come out in a different way.”

Hickman says if you or someone you know is in need of assistance to contact your local law enforcement agency or the Lafayette House immediately.

The Lafayette House is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1809 S. Connor Avenue in Joplin. You can call them at (417) 782-1772 or at (800) 416-1772. Click here for the website.

The full Joplin Police Department 2020 Annual Report is below.

JPD 2020 Annual Report