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Salisbury Police Department closes its doors to walk-ins amid coronavirus concerns

By Shavonne Potts

shavonne.potts@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Police Department says the agency is making changes to the way it interacts with the public by closing its doors to walk-ins until further notice as the coronavirus continues to affect day-to-day activities, according to a statement.

Meanwhile, Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten said his officers will respond and work as usual.

The changes at the police department are temporary but may impact paying for parking tickets, picking up incident reports and speaking with an employee inside the building, the police department said.

“The goal of these changes is to maintain the well-being of our residents as well as the health of our officers and staff so we can provide efficient and effective law enforcement services,” the department said.

The police department has asked the public to use an emergency phone located at the entrance of the building to communicate with a dispatcher to leave a message for someone or have an officer dispatched to the police department, a residence or location where the incident occurred.

Unless an incident has occurred between March 13 and March 15, police incident reports are available at p2c.salisburync.gov. However, accident reports may take three to five business days before they are available. For questions regarding police incident reports, contact the records department at 704-638-5333. Parking tickets can be mailed or taken in person once the police department resumes full administrative operations.

To obtain evidence, contact Robin Rogers at 704-638-2095.

The public is asked to contact the police department meeting organizer via 704-638-5333 for any meetings previously scheduled. Also, ride-alongs, tours and the Thursday fingerprint services will be suspended until further notice.

The police department sent out a memo on Friday to its officers and staff detailing some key issues that may arise, including issuing citations instead of arrests when appropriate. Officers and staff were also given a coronavirus fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Any custodial arrestee displaying flu-like symptoms should be treated with universal precautions and the jail must be notified that the arrestee has a fever and or other flu-like symptoms,” the memo said.

Auten said the sheriff’s office initiated the request to all agencies within the county that citations be issued when possible.

“Certainly, we will be using caution in the field. We are encouraging our officers to use discretion in the field and not take people to the detention center unless it is absolutely needed,” Auten said. “We had asked all agencies to use citations a couple weeks ago due to the overcrowding in the jail. We encourage them to continue to do that to help with the population as well as the health issue at hand.”

Other recommendations include: hand washing, the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoiding touching the face, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands; staying home when sick; and covering a cough or sneeze with a tissue.

Police Chief Jerry Stokes said the city has plans in place to boost disinfecting procedures, including public areas. Salisbury’s Public Works Department will clean the police department’s briefing area, workroom and prisoner processing area.

If childcare becomes an issue while schools are closed and both parents have to work, the police department will adjust work schedules to accommodate employees. But the issue with law enforcement officers and staff who may have children who are out of school is one that will mirror the general public.

“It is the first day of this so it is too early to tell the long term effect if this lasts into the foreseeable future. I am sure most are used to adjusting due to the nature of the work we do and the 24-7 schedule we maintain,” Auten said.

As to supplies like hand sanitizer and protective equipment, Auten said the agency has a “decent supply,” but he believes disposable gloves could get low depending on how long the virus outbreak lasts.

 

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