A Message from the Centralia Chief of Police

March 21, 2020

The Centralia Police Department wants to inform the community of changes to the way police services will be provided to the community for the foreseeable future in response to the COVID-19 virus. I know that opinions vary wildly from people who are very concerned about the situation to people who feel it is an overreaction. My goal as Chief of Police is to do everything possible to ensure there is not an interruption of police services to the community.

So, with this goal in mind we will be adjusting the way we respond and provide police services for the immediate future.

• Officers will only be responding to calls that require an officer’s presence on scene. All other calls will be completed by phone.

• Prior to sending an Officer to a location were the department has received a request for service, Dispatchers will now ask screening questions in order to determine if any possible exposure risk could exist at the location.

• When an officer is required to respond to the scene of an incident they will not enter homes unless it is absolutely necessary. The officer will require you step outside to speak with them regarding whatever issue they have responded for.

• Officers will be practicing social distancing and will attempt to maintain a 6 foot gap between anyone they are dealing with that is not being taken into custody.

• Officers will be wearing gloves on all calls and will not be shaking hands and other social pleasantries that result in person to person contact. Officers may be wearing other Personal Protective Equipment as well. So I ask that you please do not take these precautions personally

• All areas of the Police Department are restricted to necessary personnel. The lobby will be the only public access point for the department, but citizens are strongly encouraged to call into the police department for any issue they have and avoid coming into the building unless absolutely necessary.

• Officers shall be monitoring all liquor establishments and ensuring they are complying with the mandate to close. Only liquor establishments whose license currently allows them to sell carry out package liquor will be allowed to continue to sell alcohol. Any business found in violation of this will be subject to having their liquor license suspended or revoked.

• Officers shall also monitor that restaurants are complying with the ban on on-premise dining. Any restaurant found in violation of this prohibition shall be reported to the Department of Public Health and subject to having their license that was issued by the Department of Public Health immediately Suspended or Revoked.

• If you fall into a vulnerable health category please balance the need you may have for face to face police services against the possible health risks involved in having contact with a police officer, who has multiple public contacts per shift.

Some of these changes may make the officer seem impersonal or detached, but this is all being done in an attempt to ensure police services are there in an emergency. If through these steps I can approximately reduce an Officers cumulative citizen contacts from 20 to 10 a day, which reduces their exposure by 50%.

The Centralia Police Department wants to reinforce that all of the above listed changes are temporary and we will resume normal operational procedures as soon as possible. In the meantime please understand the reasoning for our changes to the way we provide services and please avoid coming into the Police department if at all possible.

—Chief Greg Dodson