Norfolk police NDN

The Norfolk Police Division will adjust its practices to protect both the citizens and staff in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

“We will continue to provide services to protect our community but have and will continue to adjust the way we work to benefit everyone,” said Norfolk Police Chief Don Miller.

After Gov. Pete Ricketts instituted direct health measures for the city, Norfolk police will further adjust protocols to include:

— Expanded screening by dispatchers on most calls requesting police or rescue.

— The dispatcher will take your information and dispatch an officer. If not an emergency, the officer will call you to determine if it is best to meet at the scene, at the police station or at another location for the health and safety of everyone.

— Staff will increase the use of protective equipment on day-to-day activities.

— While parks remain open, gatherings of 10 or more will not be allowed.

— Playground equipment will be closed due to the inability to sanitize it properly, and the public is asked to voluntarily comply.

When the pandemic began, Norfolk police implemented the following protocols:

— All staff was provided information on signs, symptoms and precautions to take.

— Dispatch began screening calls for risk factors to allow police and fire to respond appropriately to the new risks.

— Basic Person Protective Equipment (PPE) was inventoried and distributed to staff.

— The employee areas of the facility were restricted to employees, which temporarily suspended activities like tours and ride-a-longs.

— The public lobbies are being sanitized multiple times a day.

— Patrol is doing its best to implement social distancing while dealing with the public when possible.

— Officers are aware businesses may have unusual hours and have been directed to increase focus on building checks.

“We have been working closely with the health department and other agencies to stay current on the quickly changing situation, causing our protocols to continually evolve,” Miller said.

Now that the directed health measures (DHMs) have been implemented for the region, Norfolk police will be enhancing its response and responsibilities.

“Since law enforcement is responsible for enforcing the DHMs, we are asking citizens to be aware of their responsibilities,” Miller said. “The DHM can be reviewed at the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department website.”

The website is https://elvphd.org/. The four main items mandated by the DHM are:

1. Quarantine of potential COVID-19 patients or those exposed to patients.

2. No more than 10 people at public gatherings with some exceptions.

3. Bars and restaurants are closed to dine in but allowed and encouraged to provide carryout service.

4. Prohibition on elective surgeries.

There have been unprecedented adjustments to deal with the pandemic. This includes Gov. Ricketts issuing an executive order allowing alcohol sales along with the curbside or drive-through services.

Miller said this applies to the sale only. It is still a violation to open the container or consume alcohol on public property.

“We encourage you to make your purchase and bring it home for consumption,” Miller said. “While we all work together to get through this, our officers will be out serving the community for the duration of this pandemic. Citizen compliance is critical to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and prevent the need for law enforcement intervention.”

In other news

Weather permitting, work will begin next week on Highway 75 and Highway 77 between Winnebago and Homer, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation.