Ontario police forces adjust non-emergency services to deal with COVID-19 pandemic

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Coronavirus outbreak: WHO reports more than 8,000 COVID-19 deaths worldwide
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Ontario’s largest police services are adjusting how they interact with members of the public in non-emergency situations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some even closing their facilities.

York Regional Police north of Toronto and the Waterloo Regional Police Service have closed their buildings to the public.

York police say there won’t be any changes in procedures when they are responding to emergencies, but anyone else seeking police assistance will be asked screening questions to limit the potential spread of illness.

London police have asked members of the public not to go to their headquarters “unless absolutely necessary.” If people go, they will be subject to “brief, non-intrusive screening related to the COVID-19 health risks.”

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People requesting an officer in person will also be asked screening questions. Some officers may be wearing gloves or masks.

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“These measures are aimed at protecting our staff and members of the public to minimize the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus,” Police Chief Stephen Williams said in a statement.

“All emergency services remain in place.”

Toronto police are asking people to only go to the headquarters to pick up letters, as they are moving all other services online, such as criminal record checks.

They have also cancelled or postponed all community meetings and events.

Provincial police are asking people not to go to any detachments in person unless there is a scheduled appointment or they have called ahead.

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Windsor police have stopped in-person services at their headquarters’ information services branch and Hamilton police have closed their background checks office to the public.

In Peel Region, police divisions are open, but the force is asking members of the public to consider using online reporting instead of going in person.

Peel police have also suspended freedom-of-information requests, customer service units, applicant information sessions, physical testing for applicants, community presentations, visits to their children’s safety village, and they are only processing criminal record checks for COVID-19 reasons.

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