Photo of Chief Steven Wojnar of the Dudley, Massachusetts Police Department

Week of March 22, 2020

A weekly column by Police Chief Steven Wojnar of the Dudley Police Department

SOUTHERN WORCESTER COUNTY – As everyone is aware, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency and has urged other agencies to take action to prevent the spread of the covid-19 virus.  As a police department, it is impossible for our employees to cut off all contact with the public.  We will continue to respond when and where needed to provide service to the residents.  We serve a vital role in the community and we want to try and remain illness free.  Therefore, we must respond to this situation with some changes. In general, officers will not be responding to medical calls for breathing/respiratory problems, unless it is a life-threatening emergency or other exigent circumstances exist.  We will allow the ambulance personnel to respond exercising the necessary precautions.  When our officers are in contact with members of the public as well as one another, we encourage them to use what has become the newest catchphrase “social distancing.”   This means to stand six feet or so from one another to prevent any spread of a virus.  We are encouraging our officers to wipe down common areas such as doorknobs, countertops, computers, and phones. This is a good practice for everyone to follow, even at their own home.  We should make it a habit to wash hands with warm soapy water, for at least 20 seconds, after each public interaction or as soon as practical.

Symptoms of the virus include, but are not limited to, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and body aches.  We ask anyone with possible symptoms of illness to call for assistance rather than reporting to the department in person.  The department business line is 508-943-4411 Option 0.  We will be processing firearms applications on a limited basis (subject to change of course) and are able to meet with members of the public on official business.  However, if you were planning to come in and feel any symptoms of illness, please do not enter the building unless it is necessary.  Please call instead.  If matters can be delayed to a later date, we will make those arrangements. 

Everyone is encouraged to use “social distancing” to avoid close contact, minimize shaking hands, and avoid people who are coughing or sneezing.  If you feel you must cough, do so into your arm and away from others.  People should also avoid large groups if possible.  Many of the impacts of this disease are unknown, however; it is believed to effect seniors and those with underlying health conditions the most.  If you are in one of these categories, please take extra precautions to avoid exposure to illness and call your doctor if you experience symptoms.  Whether or not you are in one of the categories of concern, always be cognizant of your condition when visiting with others.  You do not wish to spread viruses and germs to others at risk.  Pay attention to local, state, and federal health department updates as the situation develops.  Hopefully we will be back in full swing soon with as limited an impact as possible. 

Thanks again for your questions and comments.  Please send them to me at the Dudley Police Department 71 West Main St., Dudley, Ma. 01571 or email at swojnar@dudleypolice.com.  Opinions expressed in this weekly column are those of Chief Wojnar only and unless clearly noted, do not reflect the ideas or opinions of any other organization or citizen.  

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