Law enforcement agencies across the nation are announcing practical changes in routine procedure to arrest the spread of coronavirus. They’re using social distance guidelines to shield themselves from potential carriers wherever possible. “Rest assured, we will still respond to crimes in progress or a crime in need of immediate follow up,” the LAPD asserts. Oregon has a special message for their residents, “Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper.”
Police need to keep their social distance
Don’t be alarmed if the next time you encounter a law enforcement officer he’s wearing a mask. He’ll probably have goggles and gloves too. According to the Facebook page of the Pensacola, Florida, Police Department, “When officers do have to respond in person, many of them will be following social distance protocols.”
Another department notes “that people who report or witness emergency incidents could be asked to step outside to speak to officers.”
Across the country, individual agencies are coming to grips with “the ways they respond to service calls to reduce officers’ contact with possible carriers of the virus.” The first step is to cut out unnecessary contact.
Some police departments have closed their front desk from walk ins. They ask that any “non-emergency incidents” get reported online or over the phone.
Don’t call 911 for toilet paper
In Newport, Oregon, they have to go one step further. “It’s hard to believe that we even have to post this. Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper,” they posted on Facebook. “You will survive without our assistance. This too shall pass. Just don’t call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper.”
If you need to report a crime like “incidents including credit card fraud, theft, harassing phone calls, vandalism or vehicle tampering,” try to use an online method or call the local non-emergency police line.
Lyndhurst, New Jersey, says they will take phone reports for any non-emergency calls “that don’t require an investigation on the scene or the collection of evidence.”
Follow CDC guidelines
If you do find yourself face to face with an officer, keep a safe distance and avoid shaking hands. The Centers for Disease Control guidelines suggest, “law enforcement personnel who make in-person visits should protect themselves from coronavirus exposure by maintaining a distance of at least six feet, practicing proper hand hygiene and not touching their face.”
Anyone potentially infected by the coronavirus “should be transported to healthcare facilities by emergency medical service personnel or technicians rather than law enforcement.”