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Phoenix police reducing arrests during coronavirus outbreak, chief says

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said Thursday her department has shifted focus on who it arrests during the coronavirus outbreak.

Williams said the department is arresting fewer non-violent offenders and instead handing out summonses in an effort to limit crowding in jails and person-to-person contact with officers.

“It’s definitely changed how we police, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that there are still bad people out there,” Williams told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.

Protocol for how officers approach individuals has also changed because of the outbreak, Williams said.

Officers have to wear personal protective equipment and will run people through a series of preventative questions before getting close.

“We’re urging people to let us know if you are sick or have a fever,” Williams said.

Williams is being more cautious with her officers as well during the outbreak.

One officer who became ill after returning from vacation hasn’t returned to work.

Others have spent time quarantined after feeling sick, Williams added.

“There is some angst out there among the law enforcement community because nobody wants to be sick,” Williams said. “We want to be able to continue to do our jobs and provide a service to the public.”

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To help contain the spread of COVID-19 health officials have issued the following recommendations:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Don’t make close contact with sick individuals.
  • If you are sick, stay home.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away.
  • Clean and disinfect objects that are frequently touched.

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