Savannah Police Department activates COVID-19 response plan, remote report center

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone, including Savannah Police Department (SPD), to change the way they do business. SPD says it has entered the first phase of its COVID-19 Response and Operations Plan.

The plan, which prohibits public access to buildings, went into effect Wednesday. If you need a copy of a police report, a tow release form or other SPD services, you are asked to directly call the precinct.

The plan also prohibits officers from responding to a call that can be taken care of with modern technology. In addition to calling and filing a report online, citizens can now video chat with an officer through a phone application called Lifesize.

Officers will still respond to emergencies, crimes that require evidence collection and crimes where there is a suspect.

Early Wednesday morning, Savannah Police Luitenant Max Nowinsky says as many as 10 officers and supervisors are working in a remote report center to intervene when an officer does not need to be dispatched.

“Those officers have been trained and they are responsible for essentially triaging every call that comes into our system,” he said.

Lt. Nowinsky showed News 3 how the new video conference system works. An officer sends a link through email. After signing in with your name, the conversation can start. It is recorded by an officer’s body camera.

Video chats are a tool for officers to encourage social distancing and to continue their goal of having face-to-face contact with members of the community.

“Even if we eliminate four, five personal contacts, I think we’re making a difference,” said Lt. Nowinsky.

So far, police say the proactive plan to protect officers and the community is working.

“So far today, all of the citizens that we’ve reached out to and offered the service to have accepted the service. so people are being very receptive,” said Lt. Nowinsky.

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