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Law enforcement agencies tweak approach to policing amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:17 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 18:28:10-04

MILWAUKEE, WI — A number of local law enforcement agencies are making adjustments when it comes to policing during the pandemic.

Milwaukee police, and several other law enforcement agencies, implemented the changes as a way to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

With more than 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, a number of employers are making changes to get through the pandemic.

Bars, schools and restaurants have closed and many employees are working from home, but not everyone gets to do that.

“Policing is policing as normal with the exception as how we make less than critical, non-urgent contact,” said Bayside Police Chief Doug Larsson.

Bayside officers will work to remain visible on patrols in order to deter crime. They are working to reduce person-to-person contact as much as possible. Urging citizens to file reports via phone, or online.

“What that means in Bayside will be seen. We are out there in full strength. Full deployment,” Larsson said.

Nationally, several agencies, including Denver and Fort Worth Police said they are no longer making arrest for low-level crimes.

TMJ4 News asked several local agencies if they would consider doing the same.

The Milwaukee Police Department has been actively working with our system partners, including the Milwaukee Health Department, to address any changes in our operations, if necessary, as it relates to COVID-19. Some adjustments have been made to our arrest procedures as it relates to minor offenses. The Milwaukee Police Department will continue to protect our community.
Milwaukee Police Department

- Milwaukee Police Department

West Allis Police sent this tweet: As COVID-19 evolves, we want to protect us and you. Dispatchers are asking screening questions to identify COVID-19 concerns before sending officers to meet with citizens. When possible, Dispatchers are arranging for officers to handle matters on the phone rather than in person.

The Racine Police Department has been taking steps to minimize exposure to and spread of the virus. Racine PD obviously is still responding to any situation involving any citizen’s personal safety etc. Felony arrests along with violent crimes are still being addressed with the same vigilance. As far as property type crimes or small disputes involving one half of the circumstances the Racine Police Department is attempting to handle the situation over the phone. Officers are able to take most types of thefts, disputes, etc. over the phone and provide report numbers. If there is a piece of evidence or video officers are still responding to process a crime scene. Obviously, everyone being aware of personal space is also being emphasized to officers and the public. I would also point out the Racine County Jail is not accepting prisoners for low level non-violent offenses. In such a case Racine Police Officers are encouraged to issue a future court date or cite the person if applicable.

- Racine Police Department

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