With the COVID-19 pandemic taking hold, area residents who need to file a police report will be less likely to have a face-to-face encounter with an officer.

Cuyahoga Falls Police Chief Jack Davis said that dispatchers are screening calls to see if police need to respond in person.

"Our officers are taking some of these reports over the phone to limit contact," he said.

For this reason, area police say people should call them rather than go to the police station in person.

Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams, Stow Police Capt. Bryan Snavely and Hudson spokeswoman Jody Roberts said police in those communities are taking similar precautions.

"Everything that can be handled by phone is being done by phone," said Williams.

"We’re just trying to make adjustments to keep the City of Stow safe," said Snavely.

But that is by no means the only precaution being taken. Buildings and vehicles are being cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis and officers routinely carry hand sanitizer.

"The guidelines are similar to those given to the general public," said Snavely.

Masks and gloves have also become more common accessories for safety forces and Snavely said Stow police also have protective eyewear.

"We’re making sure adequate supplies are available, anticipating increased use," said Snavely.

Williams said the department is encouraging officers to remain outside as much as possible and not to enter homes and businesses. At least some departments, including Tallmadge and Hudson have suspended non-criminal fingerprinting services, such as for background checks.

"We’ve eliminated that right now because of the hands-on contact," said Williams.

Roberts said Hudson’s prescription drug drop-off box at the department is currently unavailable.

Staff health is also being monitored, particularly by having their temperatures taken, since a fever is one of the primary symptoms of coronavirus.

"We are taking temperatures of fire, EMS and police before they enter the building," said Roberts. "Staff would be sent home if they have a fever."

Davis and Williams said that one silver lining they have noticed is so far, there seem to be fewer criminal incidents to respond to.

"It’s kind of strange," said Davis. "People have been kind of hunkered down."

"It’s obvious the calls are down," said Williams. "Radio traffic is substantially down."

Snavely said he was not sure, but there may have been a small decrease in Stow.

"I’m sure people are limiting their interactions," he said.

Roberts said there has not been a significant decrease in calls in Hudson, but "we generally have very few criminal calls on a regular basis."

Davis said that although there have been similar situations before, such as SARS, he has never seen it so bad that everything seems to just shut down as it is now.

"It is just unprecedented, I guess," he said. "But we’ll get through this and move on."

Reporter Jeff Saunders can be reached at 330-541-9431, jsaunders@recordpub.com or @JeffSaunders_RP