By Shereen Siewert

The Wausau Police Department is implementing new protocols to keep officers and members of the community safe amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Department officials announced the new procedures late last week in a Facebook post.

“It is very important to us that we have healthy staff that are able to meet the law enforcement needs of our community,” the post reads. “In addition, it is equally important that we don’t pass COVID 19 from one home or person to another as we go about our work.”

The new protocols call for cleaning and disinfecting squad cars and work spaces prior to each shift. When possible, officers will take citizen complaints by telephone, though emergencies will be responded to immediately, officials said.

When responding to a home or business, officers will ask to talk outside and will maintain a distance of at least six feet whenever possible. Officers will not shake hands when greeting citizens.

“Of course, it is our hope you understand the purpose of this is not to be disrespectful,” the post reads. “We will still be professional and respectful!5. While we expect this to be very rare, if CDC criteria are met for wearing of personal protective equipment, we will be wearing a mask and other PPE.”

When you call and speak with a dispatcher, you may be asked questions to screen for symptoms of COVID-19.

“Please know we have no intention of not responding or not taking proper law enforcement action whenever it is necessary. We’ll do whatever it takes to properly respond. We will continue to work diligently to keep our community safe. We are here to serve the citizens of this community and we will continue to do so. We will monitor this situation and develop protocols to respond as necessary,” the post reads.

REMINDER: Wisconsin is under a State of Emergency and you are encouraged to practice social distancing. Wausau Pilot and Review has a special page dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for the Wausau area. See it here and sign up for our daily email to stay informed. You can also join our Central Wisconsin Coronavirus Facebook group for helpful tips, links, and discussion.