HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Right now, first responders are working to protect you in this coronavirus world, and the challenges so can be difficult.
Although people are encouraged to stay inside, crimes are still occurring and News 3 checked in with police from all over Hampton Roads.
“Two weeks ago, they were mandated to wear their personal protective gear on all calls,” said Portsmouth Police Chief Angela Greene.
Chief Greene said they’ve watched how departments in harder hit regions of the country have handled the crisis.
“We’re learning what other police departments are doing,” said Greene.
Due to schools being shut down and other community leadership programs not meeting, Chief Greene said Portsmouth PD has been able to put 22 more officers into the uniform patrol ranks.
“By putting extra officers on the streets, we were able to come up with a staffing schedule that allowed officers to have more time off so they can take care of themselves mentally, physically and as well as their families so when they come into work they’re not burnt out or overwhelmed with everything going on,” said Greene.
Suffolk Police said they have adjusted their response to non-violent incidents.
They said the new response procedures are designed to reduce citizens' and officers' exposure to the coronavirus in the line of duty. They said officers will be using social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to limit contact as much as possible and police may not respond to non-violent offenses.
They said incidents that can be adequately handled by telephone reporting will not have an officer response. They said all of our first responders are equipped with the necessary PPE and quantities are sufficient at this time and they can decide at any time to place PPE on to protect themselves.
Like many cities across the country, they said emergency dispatchers are screening calls to determine if individuals could have been exposed and are then notifying the responding Officer/Medic/Engine accordingly.
In the City of Hampton, officials said officers have been issued N95 masks and have eye protection on order. They said Public Safety Communications have begun asking some screening questions to callers, and officers are provided additional information if they are responding to a call where someone is exhibiting symptoms or has been exposed.
The City of Norfolk said: Norfolk Police, Norfolk Fire-Rescue and 9-1-1 operators are fully staffed and continue to respond to emergencies. They ask that the public heed the “stay at home” order that the governor issued last week for their health and safety as well as for our the health and safety of city employees still providing mission critical services. They said we are all in this together.
The City of Chesapeake said: “Our Department, just like the rest of the city and, we hope, our citizens, is treating the COVID-19 pandemic as a marathon and not a sprint. We know that we’ve got a long challenge ahead here and we are doing all we can to properly and safely utilize our resources, including our most valuable resource, our people. We need the public’s help in this, by staying home and practicing good social distancing, so that we can bring this challenge to as early and successful conclusion as possible.”
The City of Virginia Beach said: "Like everyone else, we are taking it day by day, implementing the plans and procedures necessary to continue delivering service while ensuring our employees and our volunteers (most of our EMS personnel) have the necessary protective equipment, monitoring and care.
Call 911 for EMERGENCIES, not for Coronavirus information. Use the many other resources for information, including emergency.vbgov.com/coronavirus and 311.
Since February, EMS has provided officers to assist 911 call takers and dispatchers by evaluating calls that could be COVID-19 related, based upon CDC guidelines. Callers with COVID-19 symptoms may only have one person from the responding units, who is wearing a mask and gloves, come to the door first. That first responder will determine which of the other personnel will be needed. Without compromising patient evaluations, this measure limits the potential of exposure to our patients and first responders.
Police officers will first seek voluntary compliance with the Governor’s Executive Orders; however, they will take enforcement action (i.e. summons or arrest) when necessary. Work with us. We don’t want to be placed in a position where we must issue a summons or make an arrest. Be a good neighbor and don’t endanger yourself or others by engaging in activities that aren’t essential for you or your family’s health and safety."