Due to the resurgence of risk for potential exposure to COVID-19, Columbia police are reducing the amount of in-person responses to calls, effective Nov. 7. Activities that may be suspended during this period will primarily affect traffic functions, in-person contact reports and accessibility to the police station.
The police station entrance at 600 E. Walnut St. will be the only entrance open to the public until further notice. Staff members will temporarily stop taking reports in the lobby. Citizens may report online by visiting columbiapolice.policetocitizen.com/ or by dialing 311 for non-emergencies or 911 for emergencies. Access to the CPD lobby is limited to emergencies only.
"For the safety of our officers, all calls for service are reviewed by a supervisor who will advise whether or not to respond in-person," Chief Geoff Jones said. "Calls for service can be sorted into two categories: life threatening and non-life-threatening."
Examples of calls for life-threatening incidents include:
- Domestic violence;
- Missing persons;
- Active assaults (robbery, stabbing, fights);
- Reports of sexual assault; and
- Child abuse and neglect.
Examples of calls for non-life-threatening incidents include:
- Peace disturbances;
- Past theft of motor vehicles;
- Car accidents without injuries;
- Vandalism/found property; and
- Traffic complaints.
Officers responding to calls are required to wear protective gear and take other precautions. "This is absolutely necessary for the safety of officers and the public," Jones said.
When responding to a call and making an arrest, an officer will:
- Place a mask on the arrested person as soon as possible;
- Determine if the suspect needs immediate hospitalization due to respiratory distress or other symptoms;
- Use a single vehicle for all prisoner transports to minimize decontamination needs for the patrol fleet;
- Disinfect all surfaces an arrested person may have touched or otherwise infected through coughing, sneezing, spitting, etc.; and
- Maintain communications with jail personnel regarding symptoms that may develop after an arrested person is released to their custody.
Programs that have temporarily ceased operation include ride-alongs with officers, school visits and citizen tours of CPD facilities.
"I am grateful for the community’s patience as we navigate these current elevated case numbers," Jones said. "All of us at CPD look forward to the time when we can resume our normal relationships with the public."