BROOKVILLE – Brookville Chief of Police, Doug Jerome, said that he urges people to use common sense and practice safe practices in handling their actions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, he answered some common questions considering Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issuing a “Stay-at-Home” order to help keep residents safe in this time.
“The city of Brookville Police Department remains confident that we can continue to provide professional police services to our community during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jerome. “However, to limit exposure between Police Department personnel and the public, operations have been altered to include but not limited to the following changes – the police lobby is closed, and visitors and family members are not permitted to come into our facilities.”
Also, some regular services have been discontinued. They include fingerprinting, foot patrols inside businesses, vehicle unlock services (unless kids or animals are inside of vehicles) and responding to non-aggressive dogs at large (MCARC will not respond and take custody of dogs at this time unless they are vicious or sick).
“We will continue to issue tow releases and public records request by calling 937-833-2001 (Option 3), Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.,” he said. “Police Officers will continue their regularly scheduled shifts. Should a reduction in workforce occur due to illness in the Police Department, mutual aid is available with various police agencies.”
As for the Governor’s order, Jerome said, “the Police Department will not proactively seek out violations of the Director of Health’s Order via traffic stops, business checks or field interviews, however we reserve the right to enforce the order under Ohio Revised Code 3701.352 which states, ‘No person shall violate any rule the director of health or department of health adopts or any order the director or department of health issues under this chapter to prevent a threat to the public caused by a pandemic, epidemic, or bioterrorism event,’ which is a misdemeanor of the second degree.”
Here is how the local agency is handling the stay at home order citing codes 3701.56, 3701.352 and 3701.99:
• Code 3701.56 states, “Boards of health of a general or city health district, health authorities and officials, officers of state institutions, police officers, sheriffs, constables, and other officers and employees of the state or any county, city, or township, shall enforce quarantine and isolation orders, and the rules the department of health adopts.”
• Code 3701.352 states, “No person shall violate any rule the director of health or department of health adopts or any order the director or department of health issues under this chapter to prevent a threat to the public caused by a pandemic, epidemic, or bioterrorism event.”
• Code 3701.99 states that those found to be in violation of code 3701.352 are guilty of a second-degree misdemeanor.
He further stated that the city of Brookville’s enforcement policy will remain the same.
“The police department will not proactively seek out violations of the Director of Health’s Order via traffic stops, business checks or field interviews,” said Jerome.
Those policies include:
• First violation – A verbal warning should be documented into the Call Screen and the person shall be paged to the call.
• Second violation – A summons shall be issued under ORC 3701.352.
• Third violation or special circumstances (those engaging in criminal activity) – A physical arrest can be made with the approval of the Captain, Major, or Chief only. Those committing crimes and while in violation of the Stay at Home Order can look forward to this charge being added to their booking slip with no prior warnings being necessary.
“Obviously officers do have discretion when enforcing the law based on the circumstances and these enforcement actions are a guideline only,” said Jerome. “We continue to monitor daily briefings at the local, state, and federal levels. City Manager (Sonja) Keaton is constantly receiving and distributing COVID-19 updates.
“I will like to thank our community for their thoughts, prayers, and cooperation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jerome added.
Jerome also said that he agrees with Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck, who issued a plea with the community to not use the 9-1-1 emergency system to ask questions about the “Stay-at-Home” order.
“Most residents are aware they should only call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency,” said Jerome. “In some cases, residents are unaware of circumstances in which they should NOT call 911. “Consequently, many requests to 9-1-1 do not involve true emergencies and this could overload the 911 system with non-emergency calls,” he added. “General cold and flu-like symptoms are typically not circumstances which require a 9-1-1 call and response. Initially, individuals with concerns of flu-like symptoms should call their health care providers for medical advice and seek answers to their questions.”
The Ohio Department of Health has a COVID-19 hotline 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
“The city of Brookville Police Department reserves the right to take non-priority police reports over the phone instead of responding directly to your location to reduce potential exposure to our officers” said Jerome. “If you need a police officer, please continue to call our dispatch center at (937) 833-4357 or 911 in the case of an emergency. A police supervisor will determine if an in-person response is necessary or if a ‘phone report’ will suffice.
“If it’s determined that a ‘phone report’ will be completed, you will receive a phone call from one of our police officers as soon as possible,” added Jerome. “A police report will then be generated and delivered to you at our earliest convenience either by mail or email.
Jerome further said, in conjunction with Brookville Fire Chief Ron Fletcher, that the city of Brookville Fire Department should only be utilized for true emergencies.
“Contrary to popular belief, arriving at an emergency room by ambulance doesn’t get you seen any faster,” said Jerome. “All patients are medically evaluated and prioritized by severity. Please understand, by utilizing our emergency medical services for non-emergency related situations, it prevents us from serving and responding to our residents with true emergencies.
“By utilizing 911 for its intended purpose i.e. “true emergencies,” our dispatchers will be able to dedicate the proper attention to those in need of immediate medical attention and police responses.”