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March 29, 2020

3/24/2020 11:37:00 AM
Local police report no problems with 'shelter in place'
Gov. J.B. Pritzker's "shelter in place" order hasn't caused any problems for Crawford County law enforcement.

Local departments are taking extra precautions to avoid potential infection with the coronavirus, but for the most part it's "business as usual" as most Crawford County residents are staying home.

As far as dealing with the public, "not a lot has changed for us," Sgt. Eric Schmidt of the Robinson Police Department told the Daily News.

"We haven't really run into any issues yet," Schmidt said. "Everyone is kind of heeding the guidelines so there's nothing to report."

City officers are handling some tasks differently, however. The police department - indeed, the entire Robinson Community Center - is closed to the public, and officers are urged to handle as much work as possible over the phone. Some work is being done from home.

When on a call, officers are wearing gloves and practicing social distancing. Chief Chad Weaver is working on an alternate schedule in case officers get sick, creating a personnel shortage.

The situation is similar for the Crawford County Sheriff's Department.

"We've had no problems," Chief Deputy Doug Slater said, adding it appears that about "99 percent of Crawford County is obeying the governor's orders."

Slater said he is pleased at the way local residents have come together to overcome the current situation. He also pointed out there has been no increase in calls to the department.

"It's business as usual," he explained. "We're just being a bit extra careful. In fact, we owe Crawford County a big thank you for staying by helping out by staying in."

"We haven't had any issues," Palestine Police Chief Jeff Besing said.

Besing said he believes most residents are complying with the order voluntarily.

"I've noticed traffic flow is down," he said. "I think people are paying attention and doing their part to try to limit exposure to this virus."

Like the sheriff's department, Palestine police are trying to handle non-emergency calls over the phone. Persons are asked to call into county dispatch and leave a number where Besing can reach them to get information.

For emergency calls, officers are first finding out if anyone at the scene may have been exposed to COVID-19 or has a fever or other symptoms. When they arrive, they take reports outside.

"We've had real good compliance," Oblong Police Chief Chad Pusey said. There is not a lot of traffic through the village and businesses are cooperating with the governor's order.

His department continues to make regular patrols and might step up nighttime patrols later if need be.

"If it gets any worse, we'll deal with it as it comes," Pusey said.

State and local law enforcement are responsible for enforcement of Pritzker's executive order. Law enforcement must first get a court-ordered cease-and-desist letter and deliver it to the resident not obeying the rule, the governor explained. Those who continue to violate the order could face a fine similar to that issued for disorderly conduct.

State officials are eager to make clear the order is not martial law. The Illinois National Guard has been activated but not in a law enforcement capacity. Illinois National Guard members will be enlisted to construct mobile testing sites.

It's also not an order to stay inside. Residents are still able to exercise or walk their dogs as long as they maintain social distancing. Roads and highways remains open to traffic.

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