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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Law enforcement agencies change how to respond amid coronavirus outbreak

Several police departments and sheriff's offices have changed how they interact with the public when responding to calls for service.

ATLANTA — It's a fact of life now as the the global spread of coronavirus continues to unfold - everyone has had to alter how they interact in public to do what they can to contain the spread of the virus called COVID-19. That is no different for law enforcement agencies here in Georgia, who have had to alter their protocols to do their part.

While they will continue to respond to emergencies, several police departments and sheriff's offices have changed how they will interact with the public when responding to calls for service.

ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT

While the department said it has neither confirmed cases of the virus among staff nor suffered an impact on the ability to respond to calls for service, it does has a contingency plan in place that assumes some personnel will either become sick or be required to quarantine.

"Commanders in COD are in close contact with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, The Mayor’s Pandemic Coordination team, as well as public health officials," Chief Erica Shields said in a statement to 11Alive.

The department said it is taking several steps to help mitigate the spread of the virus among the public and staff by doing the following:

  • Encouraging officers to practice good hygiene;
  • Suspending outside travel and training for the entire department as a precautionary measure;
  • Asking EMS personnel to carefully assess and evaluate medical calls to determine if police officers are needed to assist. If it is a situation that does not require a police officer, they will not respond;
  • Rescheduling and postponing participation in certain public gatherings that are non-essential;
  • Ensuring that workspaces and patrol vehicles are properly sanitized;
  • Requiring “non-essential” civilian personnel to telework at least through the end of March;

In the meantime, the department said all sworn personnel will continue to report to work.

EAST POINT POLICE DEPARTMENT

The East Point Police Department is making adjustment to the way they are interacting with the public. The department said the changes are based off the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Reports will no longer be taken inside the lobby of the Law Enforcement Center. Only employees will have access to the building. Officers will meet the person outside near their vehicle to take a report. 
  • Services that require an in-person police response will be handled outside buildings, homes and enclosed structures. The officer will ask the person to step outside to provide necessary information for reporting purposes.
  • If calls are received in reference to a person who has been confirmed as a COVID-19 patient, then limited contacted will be used by wearing rubber gloves and masks.

The East Point Fire Department has also made changes. Crew members will wear gloves, an isolation gown, a mask with a surgical mask placed over it and eye protection. 

MARIETTA POLICE DEPARTMENT

The department said it is making limited changes to their operations, based on recommendations by the CDC.

  • Reports will no longer be taken while inside the lobby of police headquarters. 
  • An officer or ambassador will accompany the individual outside. When possible, the person needing the report can remain in their vehicle with the officer or ambassador standing outside their vehicle.
  • The department is working on implementing a call-in procedure where some incident reports can be handled via the telephone.
  • If the call for service requires an in-person police response, the department will handle the call outside of buildings, houses and enclosed structures. The department will ask all involved parties to meet with the responding officer or ambassador outside to provide the necessary information.
  • If a call for service requires contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, officers will don their department-issued Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Officers will maintain social distancing and, if the patient is cooperative, provide them with a surgical mask to wear to prevent the spread of droplets. Officers must then advise their supervisor of the incident, who will then ensure public health professionals are notified promptly.
  • When removing PPE Equipment, officers will be aware of cross contamination. Used PPE Equipment will be disposed of in a sealed plastic bag. Officers will then wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. All non-disposable equipment will be thoroughly cleaned with disinfecting products.

PAULDING COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office will continue to respond to all emergency calls for service and will still operate our jail.

Though the jail will still function as normal to include intake and bonding, the facility will be closed to the public until further notice. Although, the jail will cease any on-site inmate video visitation, the sheriff's office will be offering one free off-site video visitation per week for each inmate.

The sheriff's office added that they will still be able to assist with the Temporary Protective Order (TPO) process, however they ask that those who need help call before they arrive at the main office.

In addition, all other non-essential functions of the sheriff's office, including criminal history checks and background checks, will be impacted by the closure. However, the sheriff's office said it will still be able to assist citizen with reports; those reports can be obtained by emailing Records Supervisor Lisa Sheirling at lsheirling@paulding.gov.

Finally anyone who needs to file a non-emergency report is asked to contact the Paulding E-911 non-emergency line at (770) 445-2117 and a deputy will contact them back to take a report over the telephone.

Other important numbers to remember are listed below:  

Emergency: 911
Non-Emergency: (770) 445-2117
Sheriff’s Office Administration: (770) 443-3010
Jail Administration: (770) 443-3030
Jail Visitation: https://www.gettingout.com/

At 11Alive, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.11Alive.com/Coronavirus

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