Police in Michigan, one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, are recalibrating how they apply the law to protect the health of officers.
In the Detroit suburb of Southfield, police chief Elvin Barren said his department had reduced arrests to crimes, assault and impaired driving – “things that affect public safety”. For crimes, the department of Barren relies on non-custodial warrants which delay the judicial process of the alleged perpetrators.
Dispatchers also screen callers for symptoms of covid-19, the coronavirus disease, before police respond to a scene, said Barren. MPs are equipped with N95 masks, face masks and gloves when they need to interact with the public.
Crime in Southfield has dropped nearly 21% from the same period last year, said Barren.
Service calls have also declined in Oakland County, just northwest of Detroit, according to Sheriff Michael Bouchard. He said residents are calling his office to report violations of the governor’s house arrest order and to ask about what is allowed by the rule.
Officers have discretion to manage minor offenses, such as an expired driver’s license, said Bouchard.
” Is [a traffic violation] justify exposing yourself or both of you? ” He asked.
About 25 of the 1,400 Oakland County officers have been quarantined due to the coronavirus, and about 15 symptomatic agents are awaiting test results, said Bouchard. Officers who test positive will isolate themselves in a hotel, and officers without a diagnosis may stay in a separate facility if they are concerned about spreading the virus to their families.
MLive.com first reported changes to law enforcement in Michigan, where officials announced 18,970 virus cases and 845 deaths.