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How local and state law enforcement is responding to COVID-19

“We need to keep our men and women...as healthy as possible"
Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 20:55:36-04

(WKBW) — While most Americans are heeding warnings and staying home, some have no choice but to go to work. Law enforcement across the country are changing protocol in the wake of coronavirus.

"We’re answering 911 calls and we’re telling them when they answer it to try and stay 6 feet back," Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood said.

For buffalo police officers — social distancing is now a part of their every day work flow. Officers are asking residents who need assistance to come to the door to speak instead of going straight inside their home. Both the BPD and Buffalo Fire Department have undergone video training to help further protect their staff.

"Across the board we’ve taken every precautionary measure we possibly can," Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo said.

BFD is limiting the number of people allowed to enter a home and also practicing social distancing. AMR is taking on a number of their respiratory calls and for now BFD is restricted to cardiac and respiratory arrest calls.

"The sheriff and I, with the cancellation of courts and other public buildings where we have staff, have redeployed them to the front lines," Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman said. The Erie County Sheriff's deputies at those assigned locations are now going to help agencies like the health department. All non-emergency calls to the Sheriff's Office— like a rock hitting your windshield or a credit card scam — will be handled over the phone or through email and fax.

"This virus is silent and invisible so we need to keep our men and women on the front lines as healthy as possible," Undersheriff Wipperman said.

New York State Trooper James O'Callaghan said, "One of the questions once they get the details of what a trooper is responding to they’re going to ask, 'Does anyone or do you have flu like symptoms?' " That’s one of many subtle changes NYSP is making in the wake of this virus. And until further notice — to try and stop the spread of COVID-19 — employment fingerprinting and child safety seat checks at NYSP locations are suspended.

"We want to make sure that troopers are going home to their families at the end of the day without being contagious or effectively contaminate their own families," Trooper O'Callaghan said.