Police departments are having to resort to drastic measures as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation. As of Monday, the Pensacola Police Department has announced that they will no longer respond to minor calls. This is in an attempt to limit coronavirus exposure to officers and others.
A PPD spokesman, Mike Wood, said that this policy is effective Monday afternoon. Pensacola Police Department officers will no longer respond in person to “minor situations that are over with and do not require the collection of evidence.”
Wood also explained that a minor incident would be “like if a kid’s bicycle was stolen from the front yard or a rocking chair was stolen off the front porch, there is no evidence to collect there, something very minor. But if someone’s car was broken into, then an officer would respond, because there are fingerprints to collect there off the car.”
The goal, according to Wood, is to help cut down on the number of face-to-face interactions between the public and police officers. “We are going to try to minimize contact with the public when it’s not necessary,” he said.
Residents in Pensacola should still use their cellphones to call 911 if they experience an emergency. Those with minor situations will talk to officers and give their information over the phone. Wood emphasized that police will still respond in person to life-threatening and major calls for service.
He said that officers will also respond in person to scenes that require on-scene reports and collection of evidence. “The public will not know the difference,” he said.
Although the Pensacola Police Department has decided to play it safe, neither the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office or the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office have announced changes to their own policies in regard to the spread of the virus.
“Our deputies are always prepared for and trained for how to analyze medical and health emergencies,” said Sgt. Rich Aloy, a SRSO spokesman. He added that the deputies have been “trained to be aware of potentially hazardous situations and to act accordingly.”
He also said that it was a standard practice for SRSP deputies to not enter a private citizen’s home. This is unless there was an emergency or if the person was showing signs of illness.