GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It has been more than four months since the last murder in the City of Grand Rapids, which police say is a direct result of the harsh winter.
Grand Rapids’ last homicides were those of Domnick Floyd and Delorian Taylor in October 2013. Other cities like New York, Chicago and Battle Creek have seen similar decreases in homicides.
“We’ve seen serious changes to our criminal behaviors or our crime behaviors due to the weather, there’s no doubt,” Grand Rapids Police Department Lt. Pat Merrill said.
Merrill said there’s always been a difference in crime between warm and cold weather. But this year, the difference has been more pronounced.
“You’ve got a summer department and a winter department; summer city and winter city. So summer city is four to five to six times more busy than the winter city is. So that’s normal for us. This unusually cold and particularly harsh winter has driven crime and really activity in the city very, very low,” Merrill explained. “This winter, compared to two years ago when it was 80 degrees I believe on this day, that’s a completely different world. You’re talking about four to five to six times the call load with the police activity of a typical day when you’re looking at 80 degrees.”
Incredibly cold and snowy temps have been a big reason that there hasn’t been a homicide in the city since Taylor, an apparent robber who was shot by his intended victim, and Floyd, an innocent bystander, died on Oct. 31.
To put that in perspective, there were five homicides in the same period in 2010. In 2011, there were four. In 2012, there were nine.
Merrill said that the number of simple assaults, which he said usually take place between people who don’t know each other at public places are also down.
But the weather doesn’t mean all crime has stopped. Merrill said aggravated assaults — which usually happen between people who know each other — have increased.
“We believe this is a result also of the weather and some cabin fever activity,” Merrill said.
Merrill said he can’t remember the last time the city has gone so long without a homicide.
“But generally, we don’t talk about such things because it’s bad luck. But we are enjoying the season that we have,” Merrill said. “We have families and we like to be outside, too. We would prefer to have a combination of both — which is low call load and low crime and beautiful weather, as well.”
Merrill says the decrease in crime the silver lining to the horrible winter. He also said that there have been a few assaults in the winter that could have turned into homicides — victims have simply been lucky.