Coronavirus: Ohio State Highway Patrol, other agencies making changes

Local Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers are and will continue to be available throughout the coronavirus outbreak, but health conscious changes are being made.

Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Sheldon Goodrum said if someone needs help, they can rely on troopers.

“We’re not slowing down in our operations. We’re really not stopping what we’re doing. We are still out there looking for impaired driving and individuals who are driving carelessly or recklessly,” Goodrum said. “The only thing that has changed is how we are doing things.”

He said troopers have been encouraged to take precautions because of the coronavirus outbreak. Typically, a trooper might ask a driver they pulled over to hand them their licenses and other documentation. Now, the motorist might be asked to provide the information orally or hold the document up so the trooper can read and record it.

Goodrum also said the highway patrol won’t be issuing tickets to people whose driver’s license expired after March 18 because the majority of BMV’s are closed.

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“We’ve had to tweak it just a little bit to keep safe and to keep other people safe,” Goodrum said.

Troopers will also be issued disposable gloves and have been given sanitation wipes to keep the patrol car clean throughout their shift. Troopers make arrests and transport people throughout the day, Goodrum said, and making sure the back of the patrol car is clean is a top priority.

Knowing law enforcement is there to protect the public during the crisis is important for the community to know, Goodrum said.

“If there is an emergency and you feel like you need to dial 911, that’s what you should do, no questions asked,” he said. “But you can also dial #677, which will connect you to the nearest highway patrol post in your area.”

Goodrum said the patrol is doing the same work at the same tempo as they always have and will continue to do so. And OSP isn’t the only policing agency making changes to protect first responders and the public.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Dayton Police are also taking extra precautions.

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s spokeswoman said deputies do have access to protective gear in case they run into a situation involving coronavirus. The sheriff’s office has also closed its Dayton downtown headquarters to visitors, only accepting scheduled appointments.

Dayton Police also are taking precautions.

“Dayton police officers are equipped with personal protection equipment (PPE) and are prepared to deploy it when dealing with subjects who are exhibiting symptoms or as determined necessary by the officer,” the department said in a statement to the Dayton Daily News. “In addition, procedures are in place to ensure that police vehicles remain clean and disinfected for the safety of the officers and the public.”

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In Miami County, the sheriff’s office is also taking extra steps to help stop the coronavirus spread. The sheriff’s office is now taking minor property crimes and other similar crimes strictly by phone. Deputies who do respond in person will ask to be met outside if practical.

Cleanliness will also be a high priority in the jail.

“Jails will be sanitized at least three times a day in all areas commonly touched by inmates and staff, i.e. doorknobs, tables, faucets, etc,” a release from the sheriff’s office said. “Additional sanitation supplies, latex gloves, and other items have been ordered.”

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