Police in certain cities will not respond to calls for minor incidents during the coronavirus pandemic to minimize the cops’ contact with the public and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Exceptions may be made if a crime is still in progress or if someone’s safety is at risk.
Does this mean wide-scale crime sprees are on the horizon? Unless they involve petty thefts or breaking windows, probably not.
“We’re not turtling up into shells and hiding,” Denver PD Chief Paul Pazen told The Denver Post. “Our ability to fight crime, our ability to prevent crime in the first place, that has not changed.”
Over the weekend, police precincts in larger cities such as Denver and Aurora, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and Troy, Ohio announced they would not send officers to investigate low-level crimes, namely potential misdemeanors. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, police will no longer jail anyone charged with misdemeanors.
And if police do respond to a call, they’re required to wear personal protective equipment such as N95 masks and gloves if they believe they may be dealing with someone who has a respiratory illness.
“If we go to somebody with any kind of respiratory illness, we’re going to try to limit the amount of contact,” Troy Police Captain Shawn McKinney said to WHIOTV 7. “Our fire department is going to be the first people, and hopefully the only people, who have to go in there.”
Other cities and countries will likely adopt similar policies as the novel coronavirus pandemic not only escalates, but takes sick officers off patrols, too. The UK may stop sending police to investigate low-level crimes if too many officers become ill in the coming weeks.
In France, Spain, and Italy, police are on high-alert to enforce quarantines. Residents breaking quarantine boundaries or curfews are subject to arrest.