Less traffic, fewer police calls in Wilton

WILTON — With more people taking heed to shelter in place and work at home during the coronavirus pandemic, there is less traffic going through Wilton, and fewer calls requiring a physical police presence.

But that doesn’t mean the department isn’t working and serving the public. They’ve just found other ways to make the best of the situation.

“The amount of service calls are trending downward,” Wilton Police Chief John Lynch told The Wilton Bulletin. “Without a comprehensive study, it appears there is less traffic and more people remaining at home. Many are now working remotely and the schools and some businesses are closed. The daytime population has significantly decreased. Less traffic should equate to less accidents and motor vehicle stops so the overall numbers are down,” he said.

Taking social distancing seriously in order to prevent spreading the virus, the department is screening calls and only physically responding if needed. “Most other services can be facilitated over the phone,” Lynch said.

Police are also limiting access to the public, as well as employee-to-employee contact. “We closed our records division and are no longer allowing direct public access. We’ve placed a hold on fingerprinting services, and postponed car seat installations in an effort to promote social distancing and eliminate direct public contact,” Lynch said.

The department’s records division is sending copies of reports electronically to the public. “Most service calls do not require a face-to-face meeting. Granted, we enjoy our contacts with the public, but have placed that on hold in order to protect our community,” Lynch said.

Emergency services are continuing to respond to all ambulance calls. However, medical control has been changed in order to allow police and fire (first responders) to not directly access the patient should it be non-life threatening.

“We will maintain a distance and prepare for the arrival of ambulance personnel. This will limit unnecessary exposure to the patient and service providers. In some cases emergency responders will wear protective equipment as a precautionary measure. We ask the public’s understanding as we need to use an abundance of caution in order to continue serving our community,” Lynch said.

The department is following cleanliness policies and procedures which it established for these types of situations. “All of our officers are equipped and have access to protective equipment which includes N95 masks, eye protection, protective gowns, gloves and sanitizing agents. Each officer is fitted and trained in their use,” Lynch said.

He said the police station is cleaned frequently and sanitized, wipes and spray cleaner are available to all employees. “Police equipment and cruisers are wiped down and cleaned at the beginning of each shift and after calls as well as other equipment used or potentially contaminated. Each officer is aware of the decontamination process and we have provided supplies and materials for personal decontamination,” he said.

In addition to his responsibilities as Wilton’s police chief and emergency management director, Lynch also has a role as the law enforcement coordinator for Region One, which consists of the 14 area municipalities.

“I work directly and communicate with our regional emergency management team. I recently met with representatives of all state law enforcement entities to discuss our needs, available resources and to formulate a plan to address all scenarios,” he said.

On the local level, Lynch said, town employees are working together tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of the town. “We are prepared and are creating contingency plans while collaborating together. We are all sharing duties and tasks to ensure the needs of our community are met,” he said.

Lynch asks Wilton residents to follow the recommendations and orders of Gov. Ned Lamont and First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice. “We are all in this together in an effort to slow the spread of COVID19. Our efforts directly result in less people infected and more people surviving. I know I don’t want to be responsible for contaminating anyone so I am doing my best to follow the guidance,” he said.