Washington Police Department

The Washington Police Department announced new procedures to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting this week, the department began implementing some changes to policies and procedures in an attempt to reduce the risk of officers being exposed to coronavirus.

Police said the public may not notice some of the changes. Other changes will be more apparent.

Police officers now will be handling some calls for service by phone, if possible.

Dispatchers and officers also have been instructed to ask callers questions about their current health prior to arriving on the scene.

Police also will be practicing social distancing procedures and will maintain a safe distance from others. This is not intended to be disrespectful, but the goal is to protect officers, their families and citizens from coming into contact with the virus.

Officers also will be requesting to speak outside instead of going into a home or business. The goal is to be in an open-air environment instead of inside.

Police still will respond as normal to all emergency calls. Police said the goal is to “continue providing the best level of service.”

Washington police are urging everyone not to panic, but to practice good hygiene habits and to be kind to one another. The practices are intended to “minimize the exposure risk to our citizens and staff.”