Long Beach police scaling back public interaction amid COVID-19 crisis

(Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) 

The Long Beach Police Department announced a series of temporary operational changes in response to the worsening coronavirus pandemic, including handling non-emergency calls over the phone rather than in person.

"Community members can expect to speak directly with an officer over the phone when reporting non-violent crimes,'' the department said in a news release Saturday.

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"All crime reports taken over the phone will be documented as normal and sent to the proper investigative detail for follow up. If an officer determines a face-to-face response is necessary for a report call, residence will be encouraged to meet the officer in front of the location.''

Examples of the types of calls that will be handled over the phone include lost or found property, theft of less than $5,000, misdemeanor vandalism (damage under $900) and non-injury traffic collisions not involving impairment or creating a traffic hazard.

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"Response protocols for emergency calls for service where there is an immediate threat to public safety will continue,'' the department said. "Anyone in immediate danger or in an emergency situation should always call 911.''

The other changes include:

-- Officers have been issued personal protective equipment and are practicing social distancing while conducting briefings
-- All training and non-essential travel is canceled or postponed
-- Some public-facing business desks, including the evidence/property counter and criminal registration desk, have been modified to appointments only
-- Jail visitation is limited to attorneys and clergy
-- Field officers have the discretion to issue low-level misdemeanor citations to individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms
-- Arrestees displaying flu-like symptoms shall remain isolated until medically evaluated
-- All police department facilities are receiving daily cleanings, and high-contact surfaces are being cleaned multiple times per day

 Also, some officers have been reassigned to field duties, specifically monitoring key resource locations such as grocery stores and hospitals. The LBPD reported Friday that a police officer who works in the West Patrol Division tested positive for COVID-19, and the officer's partner was directed to begin a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

City officials reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the city's total to 88.

Long Beach residents with questions about the COVD-19 outbreak can visit  www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.

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