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Police take precautions as coronavirus pandemic deepens

Police cruisers, jail cells and equipment are being cleaned with renewed importance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — People in law enforcement know there are risks associated with the job, and the coronavirus pandemic is just another example.

Keeping officers and the public safe now includes stepped-up cleaning of everything from cruisers to jail cells.

“We do have a sanitation station set up for every cruiser to be completely sanitized after we transport people to the jail,’’ Kent County Sheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said.

“This is not a new thing for us to be worried about,’’ she said. “We have some normal precautions that are in place.’’

Indeed, police agencies across the country are letting the public know they are taking coronavirus precautions, including detailed cleaning of places encountered by the public.

Grand Rapids Police Sgt. John Wittkowski said its police vehicles are cleaned at the start and end of each shift and anytime a person is transported.

“These are precautions we already had in place, but they are getting renewed emphasis,’’ he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought changes throughout the criminal justice system, including the courts. Courthouses across Michigan have put hearings on hold, including in Kent County. 

Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker says his office is trying to limit face-to-face contact between staff and others, including police.

“Very often police officers come down here with a warrant; crime is still going on,’’ Becker said.

“The warrants are still coming in, but we told the officers ‘don’t come in,''' Becker said. "You can do it by fax, do it by email or call in so we don’t have the face-to-face contact with the officers coming in.’’

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