SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Syracuse Police Department is seeing a number of changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a drop in overall crime, but an increase in calls for social gatherings and non-essential businesses being open.
Since March 25, SPD has responded to 237 complaints about these new violations of the law set forth by an executive order at the state and county level.
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says when officers show up to these calls they first give a warning to businesses.
Four incident reports have been written up and sent to the State Attorney General’s office. If any of these four businesses are found to be open again they will be issued a $1,000 fine.
When it comes to social gatherings no tickets have been issued to date. Syracuse Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Matt Malinowski says officers are starting with asking these crowds to break up.
“We’re still getting a ton of calls and what that does is, every time we have to send an officer to a group of people to stop congregating it limits are ability to respond to actual emergency calls. It delays our response to the calls overall,” he tells NewsChannel 9.
Malinowski says because so many businesses are closed syracuse police have seen an increase in commercial burglaries.
“We really want to get out to the business owners that we’re making sure we’re securing our establishments, make sure our cameras are working, lighting and if you can’t be there maybe getting with your neighbors to make sure they’re keeping an eye on your property,” he says.
While property crimes have increased the past few weeks violent crimes have decreased during this same period.
“Which is refreshing, it’s hard to see that it takes a pandemic for people to stop committing crimes, but we’ll take it for now,” Malinowski adds.
Response protocol has changed for Syracuse Police, like many law enforcement agencies. Officers are only responding to what they call Priority One calls, like domestic violence incidents, other violent crimes.
Other calls are done electronically, Malinowski says it limits officers potential exposure to positive cases of COVID-19.
“There’s laws that still need to be enforced and there’s a lot of brave men and women on this police force that go to work every day and put themselves at risks and potentially their families when they bring these things home,” he tells NewsChannel 9.
Onondaga County 911 has been instructed to ask more questions when taking calls so when an officer is dispatched to a residence with a known case of the virus they know to suit up in the proper personal protective gear.
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- 3rd round of surveillance testing begins at Syracuse University on Tuesday
For more local news, follow Jeff Kulikowsky on Twitter @JeffNC9.