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Police departments change in-person services because of coronavirus

Agencies are trying to minimize the risk of infection to the public and staff in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Several local police and sheriff's departments are beginning to limit the services they offer in-person to support guidelines on social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus Pandemic.

The following are news releases and information from various agencies around Hampton Roads about their department's changes.

Gloucester County Sheriff's Office

In accordance with state and federal guidelines Sheriff Warren has enacted response guidelines for the agency to help minimize the risk of infection to the public and his staff. Effective today deputies have been ordered where appropriate to reduce the overall number of unnecessary contacts with the public. Examples of unnecessary contacts for the Sheriff’s Office are:

  • Keys locked in vehicles, excluding emergencies, such as a small child or pet locked in a vehicle.
  • Public fingerprinting for employment purposes.
  • Non-emergency calls such as past property crimes, excluding those cases where evidence might exist and need to be collected.
  • Non-emergency calls such as harassment, trespassing not in progress, suspicious circumstances, property disputes, etc.
  • Any calls for service where a report of activity is only requested.

All non-emergency calls for service will be triaged by our communications personnel and law enforcement supervisors to determine the need for personal contact.

This operational directive will not affect emergency calls for assistance, crimes in progress, vehicle accidents, or assists with medical calls in these cases deputies will respond accordingly. Reducing unnecessary contacts will apply only to those situations where an in-person meeting is not required to address the situation. This directive will remain in effect until further notice.

Hampton Police Division

The Hampton Police Division is taking extra steps to protect citizens and employees against the evolving Coronavirus threat. During this time we will continue to provide core services to citizens by responding to calls for service, taking reports, working traffic accidents, and protecting our community. However, in order to minimize community spread of the virus, the below changes have been implemented until further notice.

Police Headquarters located at 40 Lincoln Street is closed to the public.

Filing police reports — We are in the process of reducing a physical response to calls in certain circumstances. Many police reports can be taken by phone by calling the non-emergency number at 757–727–6111. You can speak directly to an officer over the phone to discuss important details about your case. Officers will still respond to your location to take reports in person if the circumstances deem it necessary.

Records requests — At this time, citizen requests for records are not being processed. We are working towards implementing a process to fulfill records requests online, and we will provide an update when this process is up and running. Insurance companies can still obtain copies of accident reports by contacting our records unit directly.

Property and Evidence — The Property and Evidence Unit is handling property claims on a case-by-case basis by appointment only. Contact 757–727–6549 to make arrangements.

Fingerprinting — All fingerprinting services are suspended until further notice.

Tow Sheets — If your vehicle is towed by police, tow sheets can still be picked up at the front vestibule of Police Headquarters located at 40 Lincoln Street. A staff member will assist you via the intercom.

Officers Response to Calls — Our officers have been instructed to take additional steps to promote “social distancing.” If officers respond to your home or workplace to assist you with a call for service, you may be asked to step outside to speak to them. They may stand at a greater distance than normal while engaging you to ensure that we can continue to provide quality service to all of Hampton’s citizens and visitors.

Peninsula Reginal Animal Shelter — As of now the shelter will remain open normal business hours for adoptions, owner surrenders, stray drop-offs and reclaims. More information and updates to shelter operations can be found here: www.peninsulaanimalshelter.com

The latest information can be found Hampton Police Division's website.

Newport News Police Department

The Newport News Police Department is committed to your continued safety. During the Coronavirus outbreak, we will continue to provide essential services to our community. We will, however, be temporarily closing the Police Museum on Warwick Boulevard and will be temporarily suspending all fingerprinting services.

Norfolk Police Department

In an effort to support social distancing and reduce potential exposure to COVID-19, Norfolk Police encourage residents to utilize the Citizens Online Reporting System for incidents related to Property Damage, Stolen Property, Harassment, Thefts, and Shoplifting. Officers will also be assigned to the Emergency Operations Center to support dispatchers and address non-emergency calls for service.

As Chief of Police, I had to find a way to still provide optimal service while reducing the chances officers and community members could be exposed to the Coronavirus,” said Chief Larry D. Boone. “Utilizing our resources in line with technology will help us to do just that.”

Police will continue to respond to calls for service, especially those related to a violent crime including reports of missing or endangered individuals.

“I look forward to getting back to some form of normalcy,” said Chief Boone. “And I encourage everyone to do their part in reducing their chances of exposure. Meanwhile, you can count on the women and men of the Norfolk Police Department to do whatever takes to ensure the safety of its residents.”

Stay with Norfolk Police News for updates to this story and other breaking news.

Virginia Beach

According to a Wednesday morning Facebook post, the department is halting permit applications (including concealed handgun permits), background and employment record checks and fingerprinting. 

The department will still process more serious services like in-person sex offender registrations, felony registrations and court-mandated traveling felon registrations.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday it was taking precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus in its Correctional Center.

Wednesday, the city's emergency medical services also shared some local and national websites to help keep people healthy while coronavirus is spreading.

RELATED: Virginia Department of Corrections using COVID-19 plan to keep inmates, staff safe

RELATED: Norfolk police chief encourages residents to report non-violent incidents online in wake of COVID-19

RELATED: Some nonviolent offenders from VB jail under home arrest due to coronavirus

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