Law enforcement taking extra safety precautions due to the coronavirus
Coronavirus: 6 tips for staying healthy Wochit
Farmington police encourage use of online reporting system
FARMINGTON — Area law enforcement agencies are taking extra safety precautions as officers and deputies responding to calls place themselves at risk for possible exposure to the coronavirus.
Officials from the Bloomfield and Farmington police departments along with the San Juan County Sheriff's Office spoke to The Daily Times about how some calls for service are being answered remotely, and efforts inside their organization to keep everyone healthy.
"In 29 years of policing, I've never seen anything like this," Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe said about the coronavirus.
Farmington police are encouraging people to use its online reporting system by visiting www.fpdnm.org and clicking on File A Police Report, or by calling 855-932-0563.
A detective sergeant and a records technician will review all the reports and figure if more information is needed.
Hebbe said the department is working to cut down on the amount of contact officers have with the public for such things as traffic stops and field interviews.
Hebbe, San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari and Bloomfield Police Department Spokesperson Suzanne Moore all said law enforcement will continue to respond to urgent 911 calls including calls involving violence, public disruption and roadway crashes.
"We have about 130 officers. It could sweep through us fast if a couple of our officers get exposed," Hebbe said.
Deputies and officers are working to reduce person to person contact inside their offices also.
Volunteer programs, including the Girls With Grit classes, have been postponed at the Sheriff's Office, Ferrari said
Daily briefings and debriefings for Farmington have been canceled, with sergeants checking on officers in the field. The department has even closed its gym.
Departments have also increased the use of email and other forms of electronic communication.
Ferrari distributed a video to employees talking about the state of the department to avoid congregating in large groups.
The Sheriff's Office is also evaluating how training can be conducted through video or without person-to-person contact.
Extra steps for cleaning are taking place, including disinfecting patrol vehicles and holding cells, according to Moore.
Some Farmington police staff are working from home and, determining which staffers who can work remotely is something that is being evaluated daily, according to Capt. Taft Tracy.
Farmington animal control officers are responding less aggressively to calls as the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter fills up, according to Hebbe.
Officers and deputies have increased "close patrols" on businesses that have been ordered closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The departments did say there has not been an increase of calls for service as the number of coronavirus cases increases across the country.
Farmington officers have had an increased presence at businesses, including Sam's Club, as citizens stock up on items selling out. Those include bottled water, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
"We are going to get through this together and individual panicking isn't going to help," Hebbe said.
Moore urged residents seeking a way to help the community during this time to donate blood.
Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.
Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e