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Members of the Minot Police Department interact with the public every day, which means the department has implemented several necessary operational changes to address risks associated with COVID-19.
“We’re trying to limit our exposure by using the social distancing guidelines and practice good safety for our officers,” Police Chief John Klug said.
Klug said his officers will continue to respond to emergencies, but they will use cautionary measures including wearing personal protective equipment when possible before entering a building or vehicle if someone inside exhibits symptoms of the virus or other infectious diseases. Officers who must physically touch or come into close contact with people exhibiting any virus symptoms will also wear PPE whenever possible.
“We don’t want to infect anybody any more than we want to be infected. We’re trying to do interactions outside when it’s appropriate. If it’s an emergency, we do have safety equipment if we need to go into a residence and we’re not sure what we’re walking into,” Klug said.
Like other City departments, the Police Department has suspended all business-related travel outside of Minot and all out-of-state travel has been cancelled. Other operational changes include locking the public entrance to the Police Department. Anyone visiting the PD should ring the outside buzzer, and they will be connected to the shift commander.
“We aren’t turning anyone away. The shift commander will make the determination if the person will be allowed into the lobby for further discussion or if we have an officer respond and talk to the person outside,” Klug said.
Klug encourages members of the public to interact with his department by phone or other methods if possible while stressing that crimes will still be investigated and arrests made when appropriate.
“We would ask that residents be understanding of the situation we’re in in regards to the amount of people we have contact with, especially when it comes to non-emergencies,” Klug said. “We encourage residents to call us and we can help talk someone through a report on the phone if possible. Anything they can to do minimize our contacts, that would help everyone. We will respond and do our best given the situation.”
Klug said there is an officer available to take minor criminal complaints over the phone, things like petty theft or vandalism.
“They can still file those reports and that information will be forwarded to an investigator just like before,” Klug said.
Klug said the overall number of calls for service has been reduced recently.
“I think a lot of people are listening to the advice on social distancing, which means we’re seeing fewer traffic accidents and fewer incidents caused by people interacting with each other in public,” Klug said. “Hopefully we all continue to follow the advice of health experts on limiting social interactions.”