Editor's Note: This article will be updated throughout the week with news regarding the Lancaster County police departments and any changes they're employing due to the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.
Police departments in Lancaster County have changed routine protocol amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Most departments have issued releases saying that officers will not be responding in person to reports that can be taken over the phone or online. Some departments will be wearing personal protective gear when checking on some cases.
Northwest Lancaster County Regional will even be using hand-held, “no contact” thermometers to check the temperatures of people in custody, the department said recently.
People with a temp over 100.4-degrees will be "subject to the normal requirements for medical evaluation in line with agency policy for ill or injured persons in custody," the department said.
At least one police department in the county has yet to change protocol, breaking away from the norm.
West Lampeter Township police said that its services are "unchanged at this time," in a press release on March 18.
The department urged people to follow the CDC's recommendations for avoiding exposure and the spread of COVID-19 and also checking on people who are vulnerable.
"We’re still here and we will be here if and when you need us," the department said.
Here's how other departments have changed since the virus has began to spread in Pennsylvania:
- "We are encouraging all non-emergency calls to be handled over the telephone at (717)684-7735 when possible," the police department update stated.
- If documents need to be brought to the station, people are encouraged to utilize the Dispatch Center, although all communication will be done with the audio system.
- All borough buildings will be closed to the public.
- Meter enforcement and street-sweeping are both currently suspended.
- Non-emergency reports can be made online.
- Click here to read all of the changes impacting Columbia Borough.
East Cocalico Township
- "The police department will be suspending all fingerprinting services," according to the East Cocalico Township P.D. coronavirus update.
- Police will continue to respond to emergency calls, although non-emergencies may be handled over the phone.
East Earl Township
- Officers responding to incidents will wear a N95 mask and gloves.
- Beginning March 23, East Earl Township officers will begin traveling around the department's jurisdiction to educate and/or cite any non-essential businesses "if they are in violation of the Governor’s Order... or who mistakenly believe they are exempt," the department announced Sunday morning.
East Lampeter Township
- The Police Department lobby doors are locked, however, the police department remains open.
- Staff is accessible by phone during business hours, for non-emergency calls at 717-291-4676.
- "We are suspending appointments for fingerprinting for non-criminal or employment purposes. If you planned to come to the police department to file a report for a non-emergency incident, please call first," the police department update stated.
- To limit possible exposure, to COVID-19, the department said it will take "minor incidents or low-value theft" reports over the phone instead of in person, the press release said.
- Officers will now speak with people through the window at the police station, rather than coming into the lobby. But if privacy is required, the department said, "we may find another method to receive the report."
- The employment fingerprinting service and station tours are also currently suspended, the department said.
- Ephrata police now have an online reporting option for non-emergencies. After submitting a report, an officer will be in contact.
Lancaster Bureau of Police
- According to the police department, non-emergency reports can now be made online if...
- This is not an emergency.
- There are no known suspects.
- There are no witnesses who observed the incident or who could provide information leading to the identity of the suspect.
- The crime is not in progress.
- The incident has not already been reported by phone or in person to police.
- The incident occurred more than 30 minutes ago.
- The incident occurred in Lancaster city.
- There is no evidence or fingerprints for police to collect.
- The incident is not related to a vehicle crash.
- Crimes that should be reported via online:
- Thefts (less than $2,000)
- Vandalism (less than $2,000)
- Lost Property or Pets
- Harassment via Communications
- "If you are reporting a non-emergency incident, the officer may contact you by phone to collect all the information," via LBPD press release.
- All finger printing will be suspended, unless it's required due to an arrest.
- Police station tours will be suspended.
- Emergency calls will be handled in person, but if an officer is meeting you at your home or business, they may ask you to file to report outside.
- The Manheim Township Police Department building will be closed to the public to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, a press release said. Visitors can use a phone in the vestibule of the police station to make contact with county radio, who can connect the call to a police officer on duty.
- Reports for smaller offenses will be handled over the phone, if possible.
Northern Lancaster County
- Reports to police can now be done online.
- "When possible, officers will be contacting members of the public or doing follow-up by telephone," according to the police department update.
- All ride-a-longs, internships, or other similar non-essential programs are being suspended.
- Community rooms at NLCRPD police facilities will be closed for public gatherings or other meetings.
- Police attendance at public events or public meetings will also be canceled and rescheduled for a later date once the social distancing recommendations by the PADOH or CDC are lifted.
- NLCRPD officers will be wearing a temporary uniform while dry-cleaning and uniform tailoring services are closed during the statewide shutdown. Officers will now wear...
- Black polo shirts with an embroidered patch on the front left chest and "Regional Police" written on the back.
- Officers will continue to wear uniform jackets and/or safety vests
- Tan, khaki or coyote-colored pants.
- Headwear requirements have been suspended.
- All agency-issued body cameras requirements apply.
- If a report is non-emergency, police may contact you via phone to collect the information.
- Emergency calls will be handled in person.
- The department asks that you avoid coming to the station for non-emergency issues.
- All ride along requests, tours of the station and finger printing (unless it is required for a case) will be suspended.
- Non-emergency incidents can be reported online. Incidents that are not in progress can also be reported online.
- Guests at the Pequea Township P.D. will be met outside, and if possible, remain outside during the visit.
- "If possible, officers will handle calls for service and follow ups to those calls via phone or email. If officers must respond to a location they will, if possible, conduct business outside," the police department update said.
- Emergency calls will be answered by an officer, the department announced.
- Non-emergency calls for service may receive a phone response only.
- The department's prescription drug drop off program is temporarily suspended.
- The department's building will stay open during normal hours, but will limit public access.