Police chief says domestic calls are up, businesses following closure orders

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Two Spencer police patrol cars

Spencer police have seen an increase in domestic incident calls now that more people are staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Mark Warburton told the Spencer City Council on Monday that the number of domestic disturbance reports the police department has received are above normal.

“When you’re bringing people together, family spending that much time together, we’re having some of those issues,” Warburton said.

Overall, though, the number of calls to police has been lower than normal.

“It’s definitely a slower time frame,” Warburton said.

Affected businesses are following governor’s closure order

Ward 1 City Councilman Tom Nelson asked Warburton whether businesses that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered to close are following those orders and whether residents are staying out of closed park areas, such as playgrounds and shelters, another order from the governor.

“We’ve had a few phone calls regarding some businesses that may not have been following the governor’s proclamation,” Warburton said. “We were able to just simply give them the information, printed information, as well as a friendly phone call. And, so far, that’s all that it has taken for us to gain compliance.”

He added that Spencer businesses “have really stepped up and we’ve had no issues.”

Police working to acquire N95 masks

Warburton said the police department is also working with Spencer Hospital on getting its staff fitted for N95 masks.

He said the masks will only be worn when an officer is around somebody who is showing symptoms of the new coronavirus.

“We’re trying to preserve our (personal protective equipment) as much as we can,” Warburton said. “The city, as well as the police department, fire department, are all trying to acquire the surgical masks that you see that the CDC is now recommending that we wear. They will be wearing them as we acquire them when they’re out in the public.”

N95 respirators and surgical masks offer a close fit and excellent air filtration.

Fire department taking steps to protect personnel

The Spencer Fire Department is also taking its personal protective equipment (PPE) needs seriously to keep its firefighters and EMS personnel healthy and safe.

“We’ve done some extensive training with the hospital as far as what PPE to wear and concerns, and how to don and doff, and what procedures are needed,” Fire Chief John Conyn told the council during the meeting.

Firefighters are now trained, Conyn said, to wear their PPE when responding to dead on arrival calls. The department is treating those calls as potential COVID-19 case.

“From the COVID standpoint, everyone’s doing their due diligence,” Conyn said. “We, too, are taking our temperatures about twice a day. Anytime when a volunteer comes in we’re also taking it. Anybody that’s working on EMS also comes in to take their temperatures, as well.”

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