Fayetteville police implement new guidelines during coronavirus outbreak

Courtesy photo

Fayetteville police are taking extra precautions to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Aside from regularly sanitizing facilities and vehicles, Chief Mike Reynolds on Monday announced the following temporary guidelines that have been implemented, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Non-violent criminal reports taken by telephone
Effective immediately, many non-violent criminal reports will only be taken by telephone. These reports include, but are not limited to criminal mischief, theft, harassing communications, illegal dumping, littering, lost property, identity theft, computer/phone/mail scams, and delayed assault, battery, burglary and breaking or entering reports. Reports can be made with a live department employee at 479-587-3555. Callers should choose “Option 1” to speak to an operator.

Many non-violent and misdemeanor reports can also be made online with no waiting. A free copy of the report can be printed at the time the report is made. These reports include, but are not limited to crime tips, criminal mischief, theft, harassing communications, illegal dumping, littering, lost property and information reports.

More questions being asked
The department’s central dispatch center will be asking more questions to collect a wider range of information from callers to better prepare officers who are responding to calls. Reynolds said the extra questions will help officers to take more proactive steps, but they will not affect officers’ response to calls for service.

Meeting people outside
Officers may ask community members to meet them outside of homes and businesses where appropriate in order to practice social distancing.

Protective equipment in use
Officers have been issued personal protective equipment, and they may be seen wearing gloves, face masks, protective eyewear and clothing. Reynold said this is especially true in medical testing environments or in environments known to have increased risk of illness. Officers may ask community members to wear surgical face masks if they are showing signs of illness.

Screening of arrestees and employees
The department is working with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to screen arrestees and employees who enter the detention center facilities to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading the virus in the detention center environment.

Events temporarily suspended
The department’s community outreach activities and scheduled community events have been suspended for the next 30 days. Agency tours and ride-along programs have also been temporarily suspended.