In an effort to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19, the Pasadena Police Department has intitiated some new procedures aimed at keeping officers safe while dealing with the public.
“Other than the personal protective equipment, hand washing and no touching of the face, those types of things that were initially instituted, we’ve taken a few other steps in an attempt to avoid the spread or exposure to COVID-19,” said Lt. William Grisafe.
According to Grisafe, the department began sterilizing all of the vehicles that PPD uses, temperature checking all employees — both civilians and officers — before their shifts, and created a system for reporting and responding to crimes.
“When we get a call to our dispatch center, the dispatch will ask specific questions about COVID-related issues,” said Grisafe. “Our dispatchers are asking that information ahead of time so that our officers can approach the call appropriately.”
The dispatchers ask questions such as “Is anybody infected with COVID-19,” in order to inform the officers of the situation they are approaching. In addition to the preliminary questions dispatchers ask, PPD created a phone reporting unit for non-emergency calls.
“We’ve instituted a phone reporting unit that community members can call in and report certain types of crimes,” said Grisafe. “It’s not for emergency types of crimes. It’s for the types of crimes that officers can take the crime report over the phone … We call them property crimes.”
In addition to the new phone reporting unit, the department expanded its online services so residents can report additional crimes that do not need an immediate police response.
“Violent crimes are not the types of crimes that you can report online, nor that you want to report over the phone [reporting unit],” Grisdafe said.
Grisafe explained that crimes such as burglary, price gouging and vandalism are examples of crimes that should be reported through the phone and online service. However, violent crimes such as rape, murder and kidnappings will still warrant and receive a physical police response.
Employees responsible for phone reports are not sworn-in police officers but civilians, Grisafe said.
“The primary reason is to minimize the exposure to the virus,” said Grisafe. “Secondarily, we prefer having officers in the field, and if we can have a designated report person it does free up [officers].” n