FLUSHING — With COVID-19 continuing to ravage the state, police departments have taken steps to protect officers from being exposed to the virus.
Locally, the Flushing City Police Department has closed its building to the public and is advising its officers to use social distancing techniques when interacting with residents. While the department is still responding to crimes in progress and resuming regular patrols, officers will be evaluating service calls and handling many non-priority cases over the phone.
Flushing City Police Chief Mark Hoornstra said that he has also instructed his officers to remain outdoors as much as possible when conducting investigations and to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary.
“I hope the public is understanding of our efforts to do as much business over the phone, and at a distance of at least six feet if we are present,” Hoornstra said. “Our efforts are to try to keep our officers healthy so we can prevent exposing the public and continue to be available. Don’t be afraid to call us, but please understand that our response may be different than what you expect.”
Because city buildings are closed, the Flushing City Police Department will not be answering calls at its office number. Instead, residents are instructed to contact the department by calling 911.
Similarly, the Flushing Township Police Department has closed its building to the public and is handling non-priority calls over the phone whenever possible. However, department staff are still working and can be reached by department phone or by email.
Flushing Township Police Chief Mark Bolin said that his officers will continue to enforce traffic laws and respond to crimes in progress and emergencies. However, officers are taking extra precautions when conducting traffic-related investigations, and patrol vehicles are being disinfected before each shift.
Township police have also been issued personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear when interacting with the public.
Both departments are reporting that call volumes have decreased slightly since the state’s stay-at-home order went into effect. Hoornstra and Bolin have also said that most residents and businesses are heeding the order and doing their part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“The support from the community has been very encouraging,” Bolin said. “We appreciate everyone coming together to do their part during this unforeseen challenge. I am confident we will get through this together and will be stronger as a community.”
As the stay-at-home order continues, Hoornstra is encouraging citizens to keep informed on COVID-19 updates but to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the crisis. He’s also suggesting for residents to limit their intake of alcohol during the stay-at-home order.
“Find other things to do that bring positive thoughts,” he said. “Watching old television shows, taking a walk outside, playing games, doing yard work (while making sure to follow the social distancing guidelines)…these are all things that can be done while complying with the emergency order and help to take our minds off this crisis. Prayer is also something that can be helpful to many during these times.”