LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - As public health officials and the government continue to urge everyone to practice social distancing, police are changing the way they respond to many calls.
Jeffersonville Police Chief Kenny Kavanaugh said Tuesday they have already started making changes to reduce the likelihood of a coronavirus exposure to officers and community.
Those changes include screening incoming emergency calls.
“They are going to ask you some questions about how are you feeling,” Chief Kavanaugh explained. “It’s going to be in the categories of medical, travel, and then it will get directly to questions about COVID-19.”
Like many departments in Indiana and Kentucky, Jeffersonville Police said they are ready to handle cases by phone. They plan to do that as much as possible to minimize any risk to officers or citizens.
“Every situation that’s occurring, we’re going to need to ascertain that information to have that for our first responders to know,” Chief Kavanaugh said. “And again this is all about the risk and we’re trying to take that, minimize it today and keep it under control.”
Kavanaugh said they have started implementing social distancing at the department and have a room set up for officers to handle cases by phone.
"Whether you're a large agency or small agency or medium agency, it doesn't matter," Jeffersonville Police Lt. Col. Michael McVoy said. "You have to take the necessary steps to make sure that your officers are safe and that they are able to respond to calls in emergency situations."
LMPD Chief Steve Conrad announced Tuesday they are making changes, too. Chief Conrad declared a state of emergency for the Louisville Metro Police Department.
In a memo, Chief Conrad said all future vacation requests would not be considered until further notice.
Chief Conrad said there are several new changes that are now in place.
“Before every shift we’re assessing our staffing levels and moving personnel between divisions and bringing in investigative staff to supplement divisions, either moving them to on-duty or overtime as needed to fill in,” Chief Conrad said.
Mayor Greg Fischer said first responders will have their temperatures taken before shifts too. Anyone whose temperature is over 100 degrees will be sent home.
LMPD officers will stop responding to non-violent criminal incidents that require a police report. Police reports for those incidents will be taken over the phone.
Reports for non-injury traffic accidents, including hit and runs, will be done without an officer responding. Police will still respond to any crimes in-progress.
“Our officers are interacting with people many many times during the day,” Chief Conrad said. “The whole point here is to keep our officers safe and keep our community safe.”