TACOMA, Wash. — The Tacoma Police Department has closed all five of its substations to the public due to concerns about coronavirus.
Police officers will continue to work from the substations, but the public will not be allowed to enter the buildings. Signs posted on the doors of the stations read: “In an effort to minimize the threat of COVID-19, all substations are closed to the public until further notice.”
Tacoma resident Vicky, who declined to share her last name, came to the South Tacoma substation on Monday afternoon hoping to get a copy of an accident report.
“That’s what I was here for, to get a report,” she said. “I didn’t expect the police department [to close].”
Tacoma police spokesperson Officer Wendy Haddow said the substations are staffed by volunteers who are mostly retirees, and the closures are coming “out of an abundance of caution” to protect them.
Haddow encouraged people to call 311 or (253) 798-4721 for non-emergencies and to dial 911 for emergencies. She said police reports can also be filed online at the department’s new website.
The lobby of the Tacoma police headquarters office will remain open to the public during business hours, but the rest of the building will be open only to employees. Haddow said police have canceled all tours of the main station, ride-alongs, public meetings, and non-essential meetings.
Haddow emphasized that the substation closures will not impact the number of officers on the streets.
“All of our officers are out there still working in the community,” she said. “They are still in the substations. They will still respond just as quickly to your call. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Haddow said people calling police can expect additional questions from dispatchers due to Coronavirus.
“South Sound 911 is screening calls and asking if people are ill,” Haddow said. If a caller or anyone in their house is ill, Haddow said the person could be asked to step outside of the house, if possible, to speak with a responding officer.
Haddow said the changes are meant to keep both officers and the public safe.
“We ask that you’re patient with us and realize that police work is going on and all of our officers are out in the community to assist your needs as quickly as possible,” she said.