Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

Cornell Police is one of the local departments that have adjusted services due to COVID-19.

March 22, 2020

Local Police Scale Back Services, Incorporate Social Distancing into House Calls

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Police on-campus and in the local area are modifying their services and procedures to follow best practices in disease control and prevention, as authorities grapple with the changing effects of local COVID-19 cases and closures.

Both the Ithaca Police Department and the Cornell University Police Department are working to incorporate “social distancing” protocols into their responses and are emphasizing phone calls rather than face-to-face interactions.

IPD announced on March 16 that officers would first call individuals requesting assistance by phone to “assess the need for an in-person response.”

For non-emergency situations, police may not respond in-person to minimize contact; officers will provide callers with the report number over the phone and “complete the report without personal interaction.” Emergency responses will continue as normal.

Officers making in-person calls may ask individuals to step out of their home or business to converse with police while complying to social distancing regulations — the CDC recommends staying approximately six feet from others to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

These procedures are similar to ones put in place by CUPD this week for those visiting its on-campus headquarters in Barton Hall for non-emergency assistance where they may be asked to step outside in order to talk with an officer while keeping a six-foot distance.

This office currently remains open, though services such as non-criminal fingerprinting have been suspended and Lost and Found hours have been scaled back.

The Ithaca Police Department announced Sunday that it had shuttered the front desk at its downtown police headquarters indefinitely, urging the public to refrain from visiting the station “unless it is a life-threatening situation” or they could not otherwise contact the department. The regular police dispatch phone line will remain open as normal, as well as emergency lines.

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department suspended some of its services last week, including pistol permitting, background checks and sheriff identifications. For civil payments and report requests, individuals can use mailing services.

All eviction procedures are currently suspended statewide.

Response for emergency calls will remain the same for CUPD — where calls from Cornell’s campus are directed — as well as for IPD and the sheriff’s department.