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Parsons PD Makes Changes in Handling Calls

03/23/2020

By this point, there has been no shortage of hearing the recommendations of public health officials to avoid physical contact with people whenever possible, particularly to practice social distancing, to decrease the spread of coronavirus.

The Parsons Police Department will still be out patrolling the streets to deter crime and act as proactively as the situation will allow during this time period. Officers always have and will continue to respond to all reports of crimes in-progress and those in which there is a suspect on-scene or evidence that needs to be collected.
We at the Parsons Police Department pride ourselves on customer service and will continue to act as such, but we are also obligated to keep safe our community, officers and our families. Please do not be upset if an officer does not shake a hand or make any physical contact with you during this evolving time period. We also ask all criminals to refrain from nefarious activity during this time.

There's no work-from-home model when your job is to protect the State of Kansas' 36th largest city, nestled in rural part of the state. So, while normal patrols continue as do on-going criminal investigations the public will see some precautionary changes effective this week.

"Our men and women cannot telecommute. They will rise to the adversity," Police Chief Robert Spinks said. "We can't avoid all contact. We don't have that luxury. We can limit contact, but we can't eliminate it. We have to operate under realistic expectations."
So, what does policing look like in an era where any physical proximity is a potential health risk? For starters, it means being exceptionally mindful of even the most remote possibility of exposure to the virus.

Dennis Dodd, deputy chief overseeing the patrol division, said since the rise of coronavirus in the United States, officers have been instructed to meticulously document any time they have even slight symptoms resembling those associated with the virus - cough, fever, and respiratory distress.

The police department is already doing extensive disinfecting of the building and police cars on every shift. Spinks said, "our employees are routinely exposed to a host of illnesses daily. Our concern is to avoid spreading any infectious disease, especially to our community members."

"Getting ahead is a big deal for us," Dodd said. "Early on, people were skeptical, but we got them up to speed. Officers don't have a choice. We have to engage with the community."

Dodd added that officers are instructed to practice social distancing "the best they can." So, in police calls, instead of asking to enter a home, they might ask a reporting party to come outside."

"There are emergency calls where they don't have to go into a house, and there are calls where they have no choice," said Dodd.
Officers are expected to rely on their in-vehicle computer terminals more, and more often than before, will head into the field without spending too much time in the headquarters, if at all.

After doing a survey of what area law enforcement agencies are doing to reduce exposure to COVID-19, along with recommendations of law enforcement professional organizations, KDHE and the CDC the following modification are being implemented:

  • The lobby at the police department will remain open, the Records Window is closed, and all business is transacted through the dispatch window, which, is bullet-resistant glass with a speaker. All requested documents will be delivered through electronic or other non-interactive means.
  • Rather than officers coming to the location for reports involving 'cold calls' and crimes against property without evidence, officers will take those reports by phone when possible. This would only apply to calls that are not in-progress, not violent in nature and where a suspect(s) has already left the scene.
  • Instead of coming to the police station, we encourage people to phone into police dispatch at 421-7060.
  • Fingerprinting for licensing and employment purposes has been temporarily suspended for the general public.
  • VIN Inspections will be conducted only at the police department using social distancing.
  • We will only respond to medical calls for service at the request of EMS.

Spinks acknowledges that the new protocols might seem like modest adjustments, but they revolve around the idea that for the police department, and other first responders, there is no closing up shop.

"Some of these things may seem trivial, but our people know they have to come to work in times like these. And they need to know we have a plan for them," he said. "We've been through a lot as a police department, and it's going to take more than COVID-19 to bring us down."

Remember that if you have questions or concerns please call us at 421-7060, and as always if there is an emergency call 911.