TRI-COUNTY — Local law enforcement leaders across the Tri-County agree crime rates haven’t significantly decreased since COVID-19 began influencing daily life, however certain procedures in place have changed.
Williamsburg Police Chief Wayne Bird said the novel coronavirus hasn't slowed down policing in the City of Williamsburg.
“We’re still out there,” said Bird. “If you violate the law we’re going to deal with you.”
The Williamsburg Police Department has stopped fingerprinting and they are not allowing anyone inside the department. Bird said they moved slightly more toward being reactive rather than proactive as a safety measure.
As far as executive orders, Bird said everybody seems to be doing great with it, and officers are keeping a close watch on things.
I think as more things are added to it there might be an occasion where we might have to intervene, said Bird. So far there have not been any problems at all.
In Williamsburg, Bird hasn’t seen an increase in the crime rate. Officers are maintaining a high visibility and enforcing the law like they always have, noted Bird. "I think a lot of people are staying home and doing what they should be doing," he said.
Bird reminds residents not to run out to the stores and hoard up items as there is no indication there’s going to be a shortage. One change the department made to protect its officers and citizens has to do with operations.
Minor calls that the department would normally fill out a report on will now likely operate under a phone call policy, with the exception of accidents, said Bird.
“If it’s something that doesn’t require a police officer's physical presence, we’re probably going to call that individual on the phone and guide them through whatever procedure we can over the phone,” said Bird. “We may even take criminal reports over the phone.”
Officers remain out but at the same time they are taking all the precautions they can to make sure they are safe and not taking the virus home to their family members.
Corbin Police Chief Rusty Hedrick echoed similar thoughts.
Hedrick said the crime rate in Corbin has remained the same, and like Williamsburg, person-to-person contact is being limited.
“We’re following the governor's guidelines,” said Hedrick. “Domestic violence and violent crimes — we are arresting for those. That has been our leading arrest (domestic violence) with what we’re experiencing, and a lot of that, I think is contributed to a lot of people staying at home together more than usual.”
Hedrick said he’s received 100 percent support in regards to businesses abiding by the new orders and regulations. Hedrick asks citizens to stay informed, stay patient and keep the panic down.
Laurel County Sheriff John Root said most citizens and businesses in Laurel County are complying. He has noticed a lot of panic in regard to gas and food. But Root said his office is conducting business as usual.