With the sweeping stay-at-home order in effect across the country to halt the spread of coronavirus, local police are adjusting and adapting their SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). Many businesses that do stay open and people who are out and about during the next three weeks for anything outside an “essential” task or functions are, technically, subject to a misdemeanor citation under the recommendations of the federal mandate.
According to DeKalb Police Commander Steve Lekkas, “we are continuing to do our everyday jobs and trying to keep the community safe.” Commander Lekkas said there has been a minor decline in low-level crimes but other areas of law enforcement and service continue to stay the same. “With most people following the ‘stay-at-home’ mandate, we do see fewer cars on the road which makes it easier to spot the violators.”
“We are not stopping cars and asking if the driver is part of the essential need to travel group,” said Lekkas. And the rumor that people need letters from their bosses that they should be traveling is also misleading. “If there are group gathering we may get a call to disperse, but there are an array of allowances and circumstances for who can be out and why— including walking the dog, going to the store, or going on a hike or bike ride, as long as there is social distancing — it would be difficult to quickly discern a violation.”
The ban on large gatherings and the closure of schools, libraries, park districts, bars and restaurants, retail stores, and non-essential businesses, along with social distancing, has upended every aspect of normal life. The 24/7 of the family unit being together may put a strain on future police calls and 911 calls. During all of this isolation, things could get rough mentally for some experiencing depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
“Our current number of calls for family problems, child abuse, and domestic family concerns has maintained at current numbers,” said Commander Lekkas. For victims of past domestic violence, this crisis is cutting them off from their social support networks and can lead to an increase in 911 calls or police visits in the future.
“The point of all this is to save lives and keep our community safe,” Lekkas said. “Our job is to serve and protect, and we are doing this to make our community a little nicer for our citizens.”