Law enforcement shift protocols to limit exposure between public and personnel

Kodiak’s law enforcement teams have shifted protocols since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tim Putney, chief of Kodiak Police, says they’ve suspended foot patrols and stopped doing traffic stops for minor infractions like a missed turn signal.

Officers are also decontaminating patrol cars every time they have to transport someone, and using N-95 masks whenever possible when interacting with the public.

“About two weeks ago, we closed the lobby at the police department except for emergencies,” said Putney. “The doors aren’t locked or anything, but we do ask people to call us now if they have questions, concerns, inquiries, things that aren’t quite rising to the level of an emergency.”

Within the station, Putney says the station has also suspended briefing meetings between shifts to limit contact between officers. Because the station is somewhat short-staffed at the moment, he says it’s all the more important to protect officers from being exposed to coronavirus or getting sick.

Putney says they work regularly with the Alaska State Troopers, state parks and the Coast Guard police department on law enforcement as well as COVID-19 preparedness.

Coast Guard Air Station Captain Brian Daley says this pandemic is different from others they’ve prepared for. Working through social distancing procedures for the 400-person air station has been a challenge, but Daley says they’ve restructured the crew so that not everyone is working at the same time. He adds that the air station is still able to fulfill its search and rescue mission.

“I would say the Air Station’s doing very well,” he said. “They’re still fully capable of performing all our missions. I know there’s some concerns about you know, our ability to transport COVID-19 patients but we have the proper PPE to be able to do that safely to protect the victim or the potential patient but also to protect our crews.”

Police and troopers say they’ve received frequent calls from community members concerned about others not following state health mandates for social distancing, quarantining and more. Putney says Kodiak police have resisted using their power to enforce mandates, but they are trying to educate people about what the mandates are instead.

“We’re fielding calls pretty much daily about some type of mandate issue or, you know, somebody’s calling in saying, ‘Hey, so-and-so hasn’t quarantined,'” said Alaska State Trooper Daniel Blizzard. But often, he says, it’s just a misunderstanding.

“Most generally what we’re finding is people are in fact abiding by the mandates. It’s just some misinformation or rumors that people are hearing about someone who’s not quarantine properly. I’m sure there’s people out there that have come into town and are not quarantined for the 14 days like they’re supposed to, but in general, I think, for the most part, people are abiding by the mandates.”

That said, Blizzard says, people with serious concerns are still free to call troopers, KPD or the Coast Guard with their complaint.

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