Denver and Aurora police will no longer send an officer to take reports on low-level incidents in an effort to protect their staff from the new coronavirus.
Both departments are encouraging people to report crimes online if they don’t require an immediate response and if no one is in danger. The departments can then follow up with a phone call without risking exposure of officers or the person making the complaint to the virus. Aurora police leadership said they would not send officers to a call unless there is still a crime in progress or its a serious offense.
The Denver Police Department started preparing for COVID-19 more than a month ago and has contingency plans should a bulk of their force become infected, Chief Paul Pazen said. The department will have to prioritize calls as they come in if their staffing is severely impacted, he said. Officers will no longer respond in-person to reports of crimes like vandalism and low-level theft.
“We’re not turtling up into shells and hiding,” Pazen said. “Our ability to fight crime, our ability to prevent crime in the first place, that has not changed.”
The Denver Police Department could stop making arrests and instead issue summons if its staff is greatly impacted or if there are problems at the jail, Pazen said. Officers have access to full-body protective gear should they need it. The department has also moved all meetings to phone conferences and staggered shift roll calls to limit the number of people in a room at the same time.
Multiple members of the Denver Police Department have voluntarily decided to quarantine themselves in an abundance of caution, Pazen said. He wouldn’t say exactly how many members, but said it was less than five. Nobody in the department has been diagnosed with the virus.
Other law enforcement agencies, like the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, have suspended non-essential services, like fingerprinting and concealed handgun permitting.
Denver residents can file online reports here: https://secure.coplogic.com/dors/en/filing/selectincidenttype?dynparam=1584141049775
Aurora residents can file online reports here: https://www.auroragov.org/residents/public_safety/police/make_an_online_report
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