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State police no longer sending troopers to some calls

HARRISBURG (AP) — Pennsylvania State Police will no longer respond in person to some types of calls as the agency tries to limit troopers’ contact with the public and slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

Calls for lost and found, littering, identity theft and general requests to speak to a trooper are among the types of calls that will now be resolved with “limited or no-scene response,” state police said in a news release. The new policy took effect Wednesday and will be in place until further notice.

State police said troopers will continue to respond to emergencies.

State Police Commissioner Col. Robert Evanchick says the new policy only applies to a “limited number of call types” and that police will continue responding to critical calls.

State police barracks remain open to the public, though the agency has asked that residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms to stay away and call instead. Others should be mindful of social distancing guidelines, the agency said.

In other coronavirus developments on Wednesday:

Inmates released

The Allegheny County jail said it released more than 600 inmates in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.

From March 16 through Tuesday afternoon, the jail released 622 inmates, part of a collaboration with judges, prosecutors and others in the court system to thin the population, according to Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs. The effort has resulted in a 25% decline in the jail’s inmate count, to more than 1,800.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania cited Allegheny County as a model in asking the state Supreme Court to order the release of some inmates from county jails statewide.

The ACLU said in a petition this week that tight inmate quarters, a lack of sanitation, and a limited ability to treat and quarantine people suspected of having COVID-19 presents an “extraordinary public health risk” to inmates, staff and surrounding communities.

In response, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association said prosecutors and local courts are already “taking measured, individualized approaches” to COVID-19 and jail populations.

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