Public Safety During COVID-19

Chief Chaplin's Message to the Community

 

March 21, 2020

Dear Valued Members of the Walnut Creek Community,

First and foremost, I hope this letter finds you safe and healthy. We are all experiencing
unsettling changes at this time. I take comfort in knowing that our community will remain
united in taking care of one another during this difficult time. I want to assure you that your
police department continues to be available for calls for service and that we have an
appropriate number of officers available to provide police services at all times.

In accordance with best practices and in compliance with county and state directives, we have
made significant changes to how we provide police services, many of which may affect our
interactions with you. Some of these are subtle, and some more obvious, but I think it is
important to share them with you.

To provide for your safety and the safety of our officers and professional staff, we have
implemented the following measures:

1. Temporary Emergency Schedule: Our emergency deployment reduces the overlap and
exposure between patrol teams, freeing up additional officers to be in our community. Officers
normally on special assignments are now working on patrol.

2. High Visibility: We want to reassure our community that we are still here for you. We also
want to let would-be criminals know that not only are the police still active, but we are
patrolling in even greater numbers. The number of officers on the street at any given time has
nearly doubled. We have identified numerous locations for high visibility and extra patrol
throughout the city.

3. Calls for Service: In order to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, we are limiting our inperson
police response, whenever possible. Our dispatchers are encouraging the use of online
reporting for calls that meet the criteria. We are also asking officers to take other reports over
the phone when practical. If a call requires an officer to respond, we will respond and use
appropriate protective measures. Please know that your safety comes first; we continue to
respond to all emergency calls and in-progress crimes. Additional information about online
reporting can be found here.

4. Dispatch: Our dispatchers are working diligently to keep our officers and community
members safe. They will be asking a series of questions to callers to assess exposure
risks prior to dispatching an officer to a call in which in-person contact is required. These
questions will help our officers in determining the appropriate personal protective
equipment to utilize to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

5. Front Public Counter: Although the City Hall lobby is locked, we are still staffing the front
counter with a police services officer seven days a week from 7AM-5PM. They will be
assisting our dispatchers with non-emergency calls and helping community members with
things like vehicle releases and restraining orders.

6. Obtaining Police Records: Our Records Division continues to work, meeting the needs of our
community. If you need copies of a police report or have other police records related needs,
you can contact our Records Bureau by calling (925) 943-5890.

Just as every workplace is doing, we are making significant internal changes as well. We need
to keep our team healthy to continue to provide essential police services. We are using social
distancing and appropriate personal protective equipment when necessary. We have increased
the frequency and comprehensiveness of sanitizing vehicles and work spaces. We have
cancelled all non-essential meetings, limited City Hall access to essential personnel, and
enabled staff to work from home if their positions support it. We cancelled vacations and
modified nearly every aspect of our operations in a very short amount of time.

Over the coming weeks, we will do our utmost to continue to be engaged with you. Although
programs like Coffee with a Cop are postponed, we will still be reaching out to you via our
existing social media platforms to share information, check in, and let you know what our
officers are seeing in the field.

I am privileged to serve as your police chief during this difficult time. Our officers and
professional staff are proudly committed to doing our part to help our community through this
difficult period. To do our best, we will need your help. Please stay informed and aware of
state, county, and local rules and regulations. We must all comply with the orders. The health
and safety of all of our residents, including our most vulnerable, is at stake. Please let this
moment be ours to display how a community can come together to overcome adversity.
Civility while shopping and driving, common courtesy, and looking out for your neighbors are
always good rules to live by; right now, they are imperative.

Very respectfully,
Thomas Chaplin

Chief of Police