Calls for service from the Dublin Police Department have decreased significantly compared to the same time period last year, according to Chief Justin Paez.

From March 24 through April 24, the department fielded 1,049 calls for service. Calls for service from the same period last year totaled 1,581, according to Tom Hirschy, Dublin's law-enforcement planner/emergency-management coordinator.

The state's stay-at-home order went into effect at 11:59 March 23. It was updated to a "stay safe" order that took effect at 11:59 p.m. May 1. The new order allows people to leave their residences for a wider range of reasons and is expected to increase foot and motor traffic.

The number of crime incidents also has decreased during the period.

From March 24 through April 24, there were 55 reports with 63 offenses, according to Hirschy. During the comparable period last year, there were 116 reports with 137 offenses.

From March 24 through April 24, there were 15 theft reports, compared to 34 reports last year, according to Hirschy.

Whereas reported crime has decreased as residents shelter in place, the pandemic also has affected how police officers carry out daily responsibilities.

At the beginning of each shift, officers go through a health assessment, Paez said. They also follow social distancing, he said. The department conducts roll call and meetings online or in areas that allow for at least a 6-foot space between employees.

Officers are equipped with face and eye protection, as well as medical gloves. They typically have the equipment available in their cruisers and would use it as needed; however, during the pandemic, they are wearing the personal-protection equipment more often.

The city has rolled out online reporting for certain incidents, and officers are completing reports in their vehicles or at satellite locations rather than gathering at headquarters, Paez said.

The dispatchers who answer calls at the Northwest Regional Communications Center have been instructed to ask additional questions of callers to determine potential risks for first responders and direct callers to exit buildings to meet officers outside, Paez said.

The NRECC is based in Dublin police headquarters and is a safety communications agency partnership with police departments in Dublin, Hilliard and Upper Arlington and fire departments in Norwich and Washington townships and Upper Arlington.

Paez said officers also can record witness statements with their body cameras or send written statements vias email.

"By taking precautions, we can assist with mitigation of community spread and disease transmission while also effectively handling our citizens' needs," he said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah