Law enforcement in Triangle seeks to ‘minimize exposure’ to COVID-19

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — You may notice a change when you call police or deputies in the Triangle. Some law enforcement agencies are changing the way they take certain reports, due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The people we call for help with everything from crime to car crashes, are dealing with a different kind of danger — the coronavirus spreading through our community. 

“We’re going to try to minimize exposure of our officers. Their health and safety are important to us because we want to make sure they’re available for emergency and life-saving issues,” Garner Police interim chief Joe Binns explained. 

That means when you call police or deputies in some parts of the Triangle you may not see them in person.

“Much of what our community needs from us is information,” said Alicia Stemper, spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. “We can provide that on the phone. “

Some departments will also take some property crime reports over the phone, when there is no evidence to collect or suspect at the scene.

Stemper offered the example: “I lost my license plate or someone stole my license plate. We can take that report over the phone and not risk our deputies and not risk the caller.”

Binns explained more about the process.

“If we can respond by telephone, we’re going to do that. If we can respond by email will do that,” added Binns, “so you’ll still get the same level of response it, just may look a little bit different.”

Of course, if there is a violent crime or a dangerous situation, law enforcement will be there.

“We’re not going to stand around and do that over the phone; you need us – we come,” assured Stemper.

When they do respond, many officers and deputies will try to practice social distancing, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their jobs.  

“We need to do that for the protection of the people’s homes we go to. We also need to do that for our protection,” said Stemper, adding, “We all need to love each other enough to stay six feet apart.”

Durham, Cary, Garner, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro police, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office are among the departments that say they’re making changes.  

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