The ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting nearly all parts of society. Local police officers may be heroes but they aren’t immune to the virus, which is why some are instituting temporary procedural changes residents should be aware of.
The Lower Saucon Township Police Department in addition to closing its lobby to the public is modifying its operations in accordance with the advice of public health and safety officials.
In a letter published Tuesday, Chief Tom Barndt said his department has planned for this situation and taken proactive measures in order to protect both officers and members of the public.
Effective March 17 are the following modifications to Lower Saucon Township Police operations, which are designed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected at least one person in Northampton County to date:
- For all non-emergency calls that do not require a police response an officer will call on the phone and then complete a report after gathering all necessary information.
- If a non-emergency caller would like a police officer to respond to their home or place of business, the officer will call in advance and request that the caller step outside if possible. If the caller is unable or unwilling to step outside, the officer will handle the situation accordingly.
Barndt stressed in the letter that all emergency (911) calls will be handled as normal, and there will be no police phone call prior to a response.
“These modifications are taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are taking appropriate steps to reduce unnecessary risks of exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) for members of the Lower Saucon Township Police Department and members of the community,” he said. “The public should rest assured that we are continuing to function as a law enforcement agency should under the unusual circumstances we are all facing.”
Barndt told Saucon Source that in addition to the equipment they normally carry, officers have been provided with “a go-bag containing a N95 mask, goggles and gloves.”
He said the department also has disposal Tyvek suits for its officers if needed, and is “following the CDC’s guideline for law enforcement.”
In line with social distancing recommendations Barndt said residents are requsted to greet officers with a simple “hello” in lieu of the traditional handshake until the pandemic passes.
Barndt’s full letter is published on the department’s Crimewatch site, which residents are encouraged to subscribe to for regular updates.
In addition to the confirmed coronavirus case in Northampton County, there is one confirmed case in adjacent Lehigh County and dozens more confirmed cases throughout the state.
A two-week closure of non-essential businesses ordered by Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf took effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, and schools will be closed at least until March 30, along with many other destinations such as municipal buildings and community centers.
Hellertown officials Monday declared a disaster emergency in the borough due to the coronavirus outbreak and announced that police are requesting that businesses that are closed leave an interior light on to assist borough police with nighttime patrols.
St. Luke’s University Health Network has opened a 24/7 phone and email hotline for people with questions about the coronavirus and many other resources are available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health as well as the CDC.
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