Law enforcement making changes to procedures while dealing with coronavirus

Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 17:44:41-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Law enforcment around the region is taking precautions while concern continues over the coronavirus.

"We get into this line of work to serve and protect our citizens," said Lt. Tommy Potter with the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office.

To better protect themselves and the public, police and deputies say they are making small changes to procedures.

"We’re trying to encourage our citizens to file a report over the phone instead of having a deputy respond in person," said Potter.

However, in some cases, officers and deputies need to respond to the scene or location.

City officials in Hampton met Tuesday and posted their meeting on Facebook Live as they discussed their plans.

"The officer may do some things that are different. They may ask you to come outside to where we can keep the social distancing and you don’t necessarily expose officers to what may or may not be in the home," said Terry Sult with the Hampton Police Department. "You may notice the officer may step back and keep that six-foot distance to protect the citizen and the officer."

Suffolk Police Pulblic Information Officer Diana Klink said, "The Department is actively following developments related to COVID-19. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been inventoried and Officers are being instructed on how to properly utilize the equipment if dealing with an individual who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and are following CDC guidelines. Further, Emergency Dispatchers are screening calls to determine if individuals could have been exposed and are then notifying the responding Officer/Medic/Engine accordingly. First Responders can decide at any time to place PPE on to protect themselves."

Other departments said they are looking to put more services online.

"The courts have suspended the court-ordered fingerprinting. We have stopped that. I will reassess after about two weeks to see where we end up with it," said Sult.

He said they are going to facilitate accident reports when possible though electronic means.

Leaders said they are trying to limit interactions in an effort to protect people.

"Our most valuable resource at the sheriff's office are the men and women who are the badges, so I want to make sure they’re healthy. We want to make sure they’re safe so they can meet the needs of the public," said Potter. "We realize our doors never shut. We always have people out there, and we are going to continue to do that."

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